Distracted Driving Laws in B.C.

Stop Distracted Driving@KostelecPlan asked a couple of good questions on Twitter this week. He wanted to know what the distracted driving laws in BC are and would I share my thoughts on media outlets using video footage submitted by distracted drivers in their news stories.

The video he shared with his questions showed the view out the drivers window of a moving vehicle showing a bear walking along the top of the concrete barrier at the side of the highway in Radium.

Distracted means having one's thoughts or attention drawn away or unable to concentrate or give attention to something. In relation to driving, it is anything that takes the driver's attention away from the task of operating their vehicle properly. This could include talking, eating, shaving, applying makeup or operating vehicle controls.

Many people find nothing wrong with performing some or all of these tasks while driving. They've done it again and again and nothing bad has ever happened. In a sense, it's become their default setting and they no longer consider it out of the norm.

On the other side of the coin, I've investigated a fatal collision where a driver who was adjusting his CD music drifted to the right and struck a vehicle parked at the side of the highway. The driver of the parked vehicle was killed.

When I started policing, the response to distracted driving came after the distraction had caused the driver to do something wrong. Violation tickets would be issued for failing to keep right, running a red light or speeding, basic errors caused by inattention.

If a collision was caused by distraction, there was driving without due care and attention or driving without reasonable consideration for others using the highway to consider. When I started policing, these offences under section 144 MVA meant a mandatory court appearance but today they may be dealt with by traffic ticket as well.

Our provincial government has reacted to the proliferation of electronic devices in our vehicles that have proven to be distracting by creating laws that deal with them proactively. A driver no longer has to make an error in order to be charged, simply using an electronic device while driving is now an offence.

I don't have a strong view one way or the other about media sharing video such as this one as long as they have not paid the creator to use it. The media shares other things more offensive to me on a daily basis. As long as we realize the act shown is unacceptable and don't get the idea that it would be a good idea to do it ourselves, that's enough.

Me and some of the boys were having coffee last week and the subject of driverless cars came up in the discussion.

The question was, when did we think we will have them.

My reaction was. Well we have them now. Just look at the number of drivers we have now that are texting. eating, drinking coffee . Etc. Etc.

The most disgusting news item I seen on the news this last week was when a distracted driver killed a young Japanese student from Okanagan College because of distracted driving. He got fined a whole $1,500.00 and still kept his drivers license.

The Father said the deceased said a crime like that in Japan would have landed the guy in jail for two years. We are pretty soft with this type of stuff in Canada and it almost seems we condone distracted driving in this country.

$1,500.00 for a young life does not seem like much.

Are we sure the driver took the video? I have seen others where only after careful scrutiny could it be determined that in fact the passenger had taken the footage.

All this focus on distracted driving...and the car manufacturers response is to mount a 12 inch multimedia screen smack dab in the middle of the dash, and link it to your phone, your twitter feed, your tire pressure, engine management, outside temperature, weather, who is near you, compilations of rabbits playing with deer, footage of baby kittens, and God only knows what else. (in other words, shit you really dont need to know to drive your car, other than tire pressure and they make a gauge for that)

They should go back to the dash like in my old 69 Impala. Really, there was bugger all to see on that dashboard, stylish as it was. Speedometer, fuel gauge, hi beam light, and turn signals. Everything else was idiot lights. The radio was 2 knobs and 5 push buttons, and that was HI-FI back in the day. Unless you were Cheech and Chong, there was nothing on that dash to distract you