B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

Whether your phone is sitting in your vehicle cupholder to charge, or whether you actually use it for anything other than taking a hands-free call, it could cost you at least $543 for a distracted driving charge.

That includes the $368 ticket, plus another $175 for the four ICBC penalty points that were added in 2017 when the B.C. NDP government declared distracted driving to be a “high risk” offence. Two distracted tickets in three years will cost you $2,000.

Asked about a Sense BC video that shows distracted driving incidents declining in B.C., Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth dismissed suggestions that the blitz of thousands of distracted driving tickets in recent years is a revenue stream for the struggling public insurer.

“First off that’s nonsense,” Farnworth told reporters at the B.C. legislature this week. “I think most people in this province recognize that distracted driving is dangerous. Most people recognize in this province that excessive speeding is dangerous, and most people in this province support the measures to ensure that people drive more responsibly and safely.”

SenseBC’s video creator Chris Thompson emphasized the B.C. government’s focus on distracted driving being a bigger problem than impaired driving, as if distracted driving deaths and injuries were on the rise. The driver advocacy organization provided statistics to Black Press from public sources to show they are not, despite a huge increase in cell phone use since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

The video, Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2: Lying With Statistics, shows a CBC television clip of Attorney General David Eby, arguing that because impaired driving fatalities and injuries are falling faster than those attributed to distracted driving, the latter should be cracked down on further. One proposed next step would be to void ICBC insurance in the case of distracted driving, as with impaired driving or street racing.

RELATED: Cell phone tickets a tax grab, driver advocates say

RELATED: Police cancel $368 ticket for cell phone in cupholder

RELATED: B.C. hikes distracted driving penalties by $740

“Actually some of the stats that we’ve received indicate that distracted driving could be a worse problem than impaired driving,” Eby told the CBC. “So to treat distracted driving as different from impaired driving seems strange.”

Thompson, whose 2013 video Speed Kills Your Pocketbook led to increased speed limits on some remote divided highways in B.C., says in the sequel that that between 2007 and 2016, annual distracted driving fatalities fell from 100 to 80 per year. Over the same period, impaired driving fatalities fell even more, from 170 to just below 80.

“Distracted driving fines are skyrocketing because fewer people are getting killed by drunk drivers,” Thompson says in the video.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Darlene and her son, Nolan, share time with a book. To protect his health, Nolan is not able to visit the library branch but the many services it offers allows the family to access materials at home. (FVRL/Special to The News)
COLUMN: Maple Ridge library branch has been a lifeline for many during pandemic

Did you know FVRL library cards are free to local residents?

Members of the Haney Horsemen and other equestrian users will be riding the Thornhill Trails in large numbers this weekend. (Haney Horsemen/Special to The News)
Horsemen out in force in Maple Ridge this weekend

Riders assert need to save Thornhill Trails for equestrian users

There has been a COVID-19 exposure at Olympians Gym in Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
COVID exposure at Maple Ridge gym

Exposure took place at Olympians Gym Feb. 17-19

Local letter writer said fundraiser might help change social perception about people who are homeless. (Black Press Media file photo)
LETTER: What if society held a telethon to help homeless

Pitt Meadows resident lauds Variety Club for telethon. Would the fundraiser work for other causes?

The Harris Park pool in Pitt Meadows will not be open for the 2021 season. (The News files)
Pitt Meadows closes pool for the coming season

COVID-19 safety measures would limit swimmers at Harris Park pool

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Most of 376 the passengers aboard ship were denied entry into Canada in 1914

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Framed photos of Travis Selje and other items fill the top of a dresser in his bedroom. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Crown says defence case epilepsy caused fatal Surrey crash fails on balance of probabilities

‘She very clearly had some form of control over that vehicle,’ Crown argues

Most Read