Distracted driving consult draws heartfelt ideas

Heartfelt submissions and strong opinions permeated the more than 10,000 submissions

Ministry of Justice

Heartfelt submissions and strong opinions permeate the more than 10,000 submissions and comments government received during its month-long consultation on distracted driving.

Among the powerful, often personal stories shared in 962 email submissions – supplemented by 1,932 online comments – were:

* A veteran long-haul trucker’s account of his bird’s-eye view of other drivers – nearly all of whom appear to be talking or texting on handheld devices, on some days.

* A young couple’s lament that – in addition to enduring severe physical and psychological trauma – they lost their unborn child after a distracted driver veered into their path.

* A call for heftier fines from a couple who lost a son when a distracted driver cut him off.

By the numbers:

* During the four-week consultation, which closed last Thursday, the dedicated website received more than 24,000 visits and the #distractedbc hashtag figured in more than 1,000 tweets.

* The site’s “Add Your Voice” page, which asked contributors to answer nine specific questions, drew more than 69,000 responses from 9,400 individual contributors.

* Notable response totals for specific questions:

— Nearly 90% of 9,106 respondents indicated they are very concerned about distracted driving in B.C.

— 90% of 7,536 respondents indicated the fine for distracted driving should be increased.

— 96% of 7,493 respondents said drivers who’ve received multiple tickets for distracted driving should face greater sanctions.

* Although handheld devices are not implicated in all distracted driving fatalities, many submissions focused on these devices as the cause of near-misses and serious injuries that the writers had witnessed or experienced. These observations support the view that handheld devices may be underreported as contributing factors in crashes.

Next steps:

RoadSafetyBC expects to complete its analysis of the consultation submissions and data, plus further review of contemporary approaches in other jurisdictions, and be able to provide options for government’s consideration this fall. The Province anticipates finalizing new measures by spring 2016, and potentially earlier depending on the outcome of the analysis.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton says, “British Columbians have clear and passionate views about all forms of distracted driving.

They deserved to be heard, and I thank everyone who participated for their candour. Our government will carefully review their feedback and champion new, tougher approaches against distracted driving that are effective, defensible and fair.

Over the past five years, police across B.C. have provided strong enforcement of our existing distracted driving laws, and we absolutely want to support their continued vigilance with any new measures we introduce.”

B.C.’s current distracted driving penalties – $167 and three penalty points – are the second-lowest in the country.

The Province is working to achieve its road safety vision of having North America’s safest roads by 2020.

In the past decade, government has introduced or toughened sanctions and programs to combat drinking and driving, distracted driving, excessive speeding, “stunting,” running red lights, unsafe motorcycling behaviours, and failing to slow down and move over when passing any stopped emergency or other “official” vehicle with a flashing light.

Learn More:

Consultation website: www.gov.bc.ca/distracteddriving

RoadSafetyBC: www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/roadsafetybc