Over the years, the Vancouver car accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP have been carefully following the toughening of distracted driving laws in BC. Most recently, increased sanctions for distracted drivers came into effect on June 1, 2016, raising the minimum penalty for a first-time offence in BC to $543 – a $368 ticket, along with $175 for four ICBC driver penalty points. Prior to that, the fine for distracted driving was $167, along with three ICBC driver penalty points. Police across BC are increasing their enforcement of distracted driving laws to try to reduce crashes caused by distracted driving. A staggering $46-million worth of tickets has been issued for distracted driving since 2010 when BC brought in the new laws. Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents Beyond the increased financial consequences, distracted driving is also now considered a “high-risk” activity, placing it in the same bracket as excessive speeding and driving without due care and attention. According to ICBC, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes with pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Distracted driving kills more people in BC than impaired driving, accounting for nearly 78 deaths in BC every year. Distracted driving can lead to reduced reaction times and a driver’s judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road. In fact, a study found that in 80% of car accidents, the driver had looked away from the road 3 seconds prior to the collision. What qualifies as distracted driving? Because of the link between distracted driving and car accidents, the BC RCMP made September 2017 “Distracted Driving Awareness Month”. As part of the ongoing awareness campaign, the BC RCMP has emphasized that distracted driving is not limited to cell phone use (though texting and making calls on a cell phone are prime examples of distracted driving). Other forms of distracted driving include eating and drinking, reading books and maps, using a GPS, watching videos or movies, smoking, personal grooming, adjusting the radio/CD, using earphones, and playing extremely loud music through the speakers. Hand-held electronic devices linked to car accidents While distracted driving includes behaviour such as eating/drinking, smoking, and personal grooming, hand-held electronic devices are a major culprit in causing car accidents. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury. Hand-held electronic devices include any devices such as smartphones, GPS systems, and iPods. To reduce the risk of injury due to using a hand-held device behind the wheel, our Vancouver car accident lawyers prepared this refresher on the applicable legislation. BC laws states that drivers cannot: • send or read text messages or e-mails; • make or receive calls unless using hands-free device; • hold or operate any electronic device; • operate hand-held OR hands-free electronic devices if in the Graduated Licensing Program (i.e., a learner or novice driver). You read that correctly – just holding your device in your hand, or taking your eyes off of the road to manipulate buttons on that device, it is considered using the device and is subject to a $368 fine under the Motor Vehicle Act. The law applies even when you are stopped in traffic, so it is against the law to text or talk while stopped at a red light. What if I an injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver? If you are injured as a result of a distracted driver, contact the Vancouver car accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP for a free initial consultation. We can discuss your injuries and options, and discuss any liability issues that arise from the other driver’s negligence. We can also help if ICBC is attempting to deny or reduce your personal injury claim by alleging that you were distracted while driving. Our personal injury law firm of Vancouver car accident lawyers has over 30 years’ experience dealing with ICBC and other insurers. We know the law as it relates to distracted driving and negligence claims, and can use that knowledge to protect your rights and help build your claim. Legal Guidance & More, from Injury to Recovery Bronson Jones & Company LLP exclusively represents victims of motor vehicle accidents, and that’s all we do! Unlike other law firms which deal with everything from dog bites to divorce, Bronson Jones has built more than 30 years of trial experience and in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents. We’ve also developed an extensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Additionally, such reports may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.
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