The Government of British Columbia (B.C.) is working to designate distracted driving as a high-risk driving behaviour under the “ICBC Driver Risk Premium” program.

This means a driver with two distracted driving tickets in a three-year period will see their total financial penalties rise to as much as $2,000 ― an increase of $740 over the existing penalties. This is in addition to their regular insurance premium.

“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.”

Distracted driving is a factor in more than 25% of all car crash fatalities in B.C., killing an average of 78 people each year. Currently, there are about 12,000 drivers in British Columbia that have multiple distracted-driving offences 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 the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (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 will issue directions regarding the changes to both ICBC and the British Columbia Utilities Commission. The changes are expected to be in effect for convictions beginning March 1, 2018.