Driving while using a cell phone increases the chances of an accident. In fact, a recent study has shown that distracted drivers can be more likely than impaired drivers to cause an accident.
With statistics like these in mind the BC Government has introduced amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act which come into force in January, 2010 making it unlawful to text/e-mail while driving and also making it unlawful for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone while driving.
These new laws are changes for the better and hopefully will reduce the number of accidents on our roads. The BC Government’s press release introducing this law came out today and states as follows:
VICTORIA – B.C. roads will be safer following legislative changes to prevent the use of hand- held cellphones, portable electronic devices and text messaging while driving, Solicitor General Kash Heed announced today.
“We’re taking action today because British Columbians have made it clear they support stronger restrictions on cellphones and other devices that take a driver’s hands off the wheel and their eyes from the road,” said Heed. “Simply put, you cannot talk, type or dial on any hand-held device while driving.”
Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) upon legislative approval are to take effect on Jan. 1, 2010. At that point, only hands-free cellphones and devices that require one touch to activate will be permitted. Drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) will not be permitted to use hands-free phones in addition to other prohibited activity.
A new fine in the amount of $167 will begin to be levied on Feb. 1, 2010. If drivers are caught texting or emailing they will receive an additional three penalty points. Further, drivers in the GLP will receive the $167 fine and three penalty points for any violation of this legislation.
“As physicians, we often see the consequences of those injured in a car crash because a distracted driver was using a cellphone,” said Dr. Brian Brodie, president of the BC Medical Association. “This is preventative legislation that focuses on being responsible with new technology in a way that doesn’t put people’s lives at risk.”
Clayton Pecknold, vice-president of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police said, “Police have been looking forward to these changes because it gives us another enforcement tool to create safer roads in this province.”
According to independent research and studies, cellphone use while driving is the number-one cause of distracted driving. On average, about 117 people die each year in B.C. and 1,400 are sent to hospital because someone was not paying attention behind the wheel.
In the coming months, government will launch an awareness campaign to educate drivers on the new law and the importance of paying attention to the road, pedestrians and other cars around them.