The North District RCMP have handed out over $66,000 worth of distracted driving fines since harsher penalties came into effect on June 1st.
BC more than doubled the fines associated with talking or texting on a handheld device, now $368 up from $167. Offenders are also slapped with ICBC penalty point premiums, bringing the total penalty up to $543 for first time offenders.
Corporal Madonna Saunderson says North District (everything north of 100 Mile) officers have issued 122 tickets since June 1st.
“Is this higher than we expected, or lower? It’s hard to say because we are a society where people are dependant on their phones. I mean everyone you look at has a phone in their hand, we continue to see people drive while using electronic devices.”
Compared to the same time frame last year things have improved, with the number of tickets issued down 12% from 139.
“So it’s down a little bit, not significantly. The decrease could be attributed to education; people becoming more aware of the offense perhaps the fine increase as well.” Saunderson said
Distracted driving is one of the top factors behind fatal and injury causing crashes for youth(22% of accidents), behind just impaired driving(27%) and speeding(39%).
Saunderson notes that even at a red light, you can still be ticketed for using your phone.