Distracted driving penalties are increasing. Again.
And immediate roadside driving prohibitions (like those for impaired driving) might be coming.
Goodness. Much ado about distracted driving!
Would it be fair for distracted driving penalties to be as swift and severe as those for impaired driving?
Consider which behaviour is more deserving of swift and severe consequences.
Which is a clear, conscious choice?
Driving after drinking alcohol is a clear, conscious choice. Absolutely. But that’s not the offence. The offence is doing so with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.05.
Depending on gender, weight and size, it could take as little as two or as many as five drinks over a two hour period to reach 0.05.
You might get it wrong. Adding to the problem, the consumption of any alcohol will impact on your ability to monitor that consumption!
Don’t you dare interpret me as making light of the serious problem of impaired driving, by the way. I am simply comparing the 0.05 offence with distracted driving on the basis of conscious choice.
Neither cell phone use, nor texting can be “mistakenly” engaged in. Doing so while driving is a conscious choice.
A conscious choice to engage in an illegal driving behaviour that you know is dangerous. Doesn’t that cry out for swift and severe consequences?
Look at speeding as a comparison.
Exceeding a posted speed limit can occur absent-mindedly and results in a fine. Excessive speeding results in the immediate impoundment of your vehicle.
Do we need swift and severe consequences to curb distracted driving? Let’s look at the history of distracted driving penalties in British Columbia.
We prohibited distracted driving as of January 1, 2010, with a fine of $167.00.
A lack of effectiveness led to a change effective June 1, 2016.The fine increased from $167.00 to $368.00, along with 4 points there was a total financial hit for a first time offender of $543.00. A second offence resulted in fines and points costing up to $1,256.00.
That increase didn’t do much to change driver behaviours. According to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, the number of distracted driving tickets issued between June, 2016 and June, 2017 (44,000) was a reduction of only 13 percent from the year before.
Now we have another increase coming as of March 1, 2018. No change for first time offenders, but a second offence will come with up to a whopping $1,996.00 of fines and points.
When announcing the latest change, our Attorney General was quoted as saying: “Once implemented, this change will treat distracted driving as the serious high-risk behaviour that it is; one that is on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding”.
I agree. It is a serious high-risk behaviour on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding. But no, this change does not bring the consequences up to those levels.
A first offender will still drive way with a few hundred dollars of fines and points. We need swift and severe.
READ MORE HERE about Goodness. Much ado about distracted driving!
Source: Paul Hergott, Personal Injury Lawyer