Poll: Distracted Driving

Distracted driving plays a role in more than one quarter of all car crash deaths in B.C., according to Insurance Corp. of British Columbia. On March 1, a driver with two distracted driving tickets in a three-year period will get dinged as much as $2,000—a jump of $740 over current penalties and on top of their regular insurance premium. The changes are expected to boost ICBC revenue by $3 million to $5 million a year, which will help offset basic insurance rates.

Last November, Mustel Group asked 500 Metro Vancouver residents how they felt about the higher fines. Overall, 79.6 per cent were in favour, and support rose with age: 76.7 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds and 77.4 per cent of 35- to 54-year-olds compared to 84.8 percent of those over 55.

Although she’s heard speculation that the increased fines are a cash grab to prop up ICBC, there’s obviously strong support for them, says Mustel Group principal Evi Mustel. “The one area where there’s a little bit of difference, and it doesn’t surprise me, really, is there’s not quite as strong support among the millennials, the 18- to 34-year-olds.”

On the other hand, when Mustel Group asked, “Do you think imposing harsher fines for distracted driving will result in fewer serious accidents?” 68.3 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds agreed, compared to 60.3 per cent of 35- to 54-year-olds and 70.4 per cent of people over 55. “So they do agree it’s effective,” Mustel notes. “They’re just not as thrilled about it because they probably know they’re going to be a lot more vulnerable to fines.”