Government to target distracted drivers with increased insurance premiums

David Eby

About 12,000 drivers in British Columbia have multiple distracted-driving offences over a three-year period.

The B.C. government announced Monday it will designate distracted driving a "high-risk driving behaviour" and hike fees on offenders, effective March 1, 2018.

The change will mean distracted driving will be considered a high-risk behaviour under the ICBC Driver Risk Premium program.

Stealing a look at Facebook or finishing a text while driving just got a lot more expensive in B.C.

"Taking action to improve safety and penalize risky behaviours benefits all British Columbians and is another step in the right direction".

If B.C.'s distracted driving penalties weren't doing enough before, the government is now hitting motorists where it hurts - in their insurance premiums. "Today, we are taking action to curb the behaviour and improve safety for all B.C. road users", B.C. Attorney General David Eby said in a statement.

The government says the charges are separate from vehicle insurance premiums charged by ICBC and will be levied even if an individual does not own or insure a vehicle.

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.

According to ICBC's website, [http://www.icbc.com/road-safety/crashes-happen/Distracted-driving/pages/infographic.aspx] an average of 78 people die every year in auto crashes in B.C. where distracted driving was a factor.

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