VICTORIA, B.C. — The provincial government announced today that distracted driving will be labelled as a high-risk driving behaviour under the ICBC Driver Risk Premium program.
That means a driver with two distracted driving tickets in a three-year timeframe will see their total financial penalties rise to as much as $2,000 – an increase of $740 over the existing penalties. Driver Risk Premium charges are separate from vehicle insurance premiums and are billed even if an individual does not own or insure a vehicle. Currently, two distracted driving tickets in one year will cost $1,256. The changes mean that drivers with two tickets for driving while using an electronic device will have to pay an extra $370 per year for three straight years.
“Distracted driving continues to put people in danger and significant pressure on insurance rates for all drivers. Today, we are taking action to curb the behaviour and improve safety for all B.C. road users,” said Attorney General David Eby. “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. Taking action to improve safety and penalize dangerous behaviours benefits all British Columbians and is another step in the right direction.”
According to statistics, distracted driving is a factor in more than 25 percent of all fatal car crashes in B.C., killing an average of 78 people each year. Currently, there are approximately 12,000 drivers in B.C. that have multiple distracted-driving tickets over a three-year period.
When fully implemented, the changes will result in about $3 million to $5 million in additional premiums collected annually, which will be used to offset ICBC’s overall basic insurance rate pressures, benefiting drivers around the province.
“B.C. already has some of the toughest distracted-driving penalties in Canada and these changes make our rules even tougher,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “In the continuing fight against distracted driving, even a single death is one too many.”
The changes to high-risk driving behaviour require changes to the ICBC Basic Insurance Tariff. The government said it will issue directions to both ICBC and the B.C. Utilities Commission about the changes, which will be in effect beginning March 1, 2018.