Victoria, British Columbia – B.C.’s distracted driving law is estimated to have saved 16 lives and produced a 12 per cent reduction in the number of serious injuries since it was introduced two years ago, the province said.

The use of hand-held cellphones and electronic devices while driving was prohibited as of February 1, 2010. The offence is subject to a fine of $167. Drivers caught texting or emailing will receive three penalty points in addition to the fine, while drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program are not permitted to use any device, including hands-free.

From February 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011, fatalities related to distracted driving dropped by 12 per cent, and serious injuries related to it went down 12 per cent when compared to deaths and serious injuries between February 1, 2008 and July 31, 2009. Evidence shows that talking on a cellphone while driving reduces a driver’s field of vision by 50 per cent and quadruples the risk of causing a crash.

Between February 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011, police issued 46,008 tickets for using a hand-held device while driving, and 1,372 for emailing or texting while driving. Over 34 per cent more tickets were issued for distracted driving in 2011 than in the previous year.

“While the statistics show that we have seen a reduction in fatalities and serious injuries, far too many people are not getting the message,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “If you choose to text or talk on your cellphone when you are driving, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk. Could any phone call or text message be worth that risk? When you buckle up, make it part of your routine to leave your electronic device in the trunk, a purse or briefcase. Don’t risk getting a fine, points or, worse yet, a serious injury or death.”

Connect with