Is it time for British Columbia to overhaul its distracted driving legislation for greater clarity?
It’s a call some advocates are making in the wake last week’s Lower Mainland distracted driving enforcement blitz — and a slip-up by the province’s own public insurer in a safety video explaining exactly what is and isn’t legal when on the road.
ICBC was forced to delete the video and apologize, after erroneously suggesting that it was against the law to have a mobile phone sitting in a vehicle’s passenger seat. In reality, it is legal to have your phone in the passenger seat or elsewhere in the vehicle so long as you aren’t using it.
“It’s long overdue, simply because it’s not written clear enough,” said Grant Gottgetreau, a former police officer and forensic consultant for traffic offences. “(When) it was initially written, the intent was so you didn’t have your phone in your hand while you were talking or your phone in your hand while you were texting.
“It morphed from there to being simply in your lap or your cupholder or the seat — even if it wasn’t plugged in, even if it wasn’t on, that was sufficient to get not only a ticket but conviction in court, and that was not the intent of the legislation when it came in.”
B.C. first introduced its distracted driving legislation in 2009 as a $167 fine.
Since then, it has evolved to a $368 fine and four driver penalty points.