When you’re behind the wheel, you have more than enough things to pay attention to. Pedestrians crossing the street. Stop lights and stop signs. These are the things you should be focused on – and not that text message from your friend or email from your boss. Distracted driving is a serious problem in BC, so we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about it.
What’s considered distracted driving in BC?
Distractions affect your ability to focus on the road and include everything from reading texts and replying to emails to programming a GPS and fiddling with the radio. The BC Motor Vehicle Act specifically prohibits the use of electronic devices while driving, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only form of distracted driving in BC. Things like smoking, grooming, reading maps, and even talking to passengers are examples of distractions that can compromise your safety on the road.
Can you eat and drive in BC?
Do you often rush out the door each morning with your breakfast and coffee in hand? Do you eat this breakfast on your drive to work? If you’re a driver who often eats behind the wheel, you might want to rethink your habits. While the BC Motor Vehicle Act doesn’t specifically cover eating while driving, the RCMP considers eating a form of distraction – and could fine you for it. If you need to take a bite out of your breakfast sandwich or sip of your coffee, it’s best to avoid it altogether while driving.
What’s the fine for distracted driving in BC?
Distracted driving in BC comes with a price, and it’s simply not worth it. If you’re caught using an electronic device, emailing, or texting while driving, you’ll be slapped with a $368 fine, plus a $210 ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium on your first offence. Besides that, you’ll also get 4 driver penalty points added to your record. If you’re a repeat offender of distracted driving, things will only get worse. You may have to pay an annual Driver Risk Premium and could even have your licence suspended.
What kind of electronics can you use while driving?
First off, if you have a Learner’s or Novice licence, you’re not allowed to use any type of electronic device while driving in BC – even hands-free. For everyone else, here’s a breakdown of some common electronics you might use while driving, and how to use them safely.
Holding and using your cellphone while driving is a no-no, even when you’re stopped at a red light. If you do have a cellphone in your car for hands-free use, it must be securely affixed to your car and activated by your voice or a single touch.
Like cellphones, a GPS must be affixed to your car for use. Make sure to program the GPS before you start your journey, or use your voice to program it while driving.
Handheld Audio Player
If you want to listen to music from an MP3 player or other similar devices, you must play the sound through your car’s speaker system. The audio player must also be mounted to your car. For safety, avoid playing around with your music while driving.
For more examples of electronics you can and can’t use while driving, check out RoadSafetyBC’s Use of Electronics While Driving guide.