Stiffer fines for distracted driving are hoped to make an impact in B.C. on changing driver behaviour.

Stiffer fines for distracted driving are hoped to make an impact in B.C. on changing driver behaviour.

Stiffer fines might reduce distracted driving behaviour

The Chilliwack Progress headed into the streets recently to gauge reactions of residents on increased fines for talking while driving.

Don’t even think of picking up that phone, or texting that cute emoji while behind the wheel.

Much steeper fines for distracted driving are now in effect.

It could now mean a whopping $543 for a first offence, when all the penalties are added up, and $888 for a second time.

The Chilliwack Progress headed into the streets of downtown Chilliwack to gauge reactions after the fines were increased.

Here’s what reporter Jennifer Feinberg and student intern for the day, Marizza Agudelo-Williams found out.

Glynis Roed said she strongly approves of stiffer fines.

“I think it’s a good idea. It’s a long time coming,” she said.

She has seen many drivers talking away on their phones in traffic, and knows it’s a “high risk” type of driving behaviour.

“You hope you don’t end up getting into an accident with them.

“Sometimes you have to beep your horn at them because they’re not paying attention when they’re texting in the vehicle ahead of you.”

The increased penalty for distracted driving, which was at $167 before this week, could stand to be made even higher, according to some.

Guher Yakar-Karcioglu said even more expensive fines might act as a deterrent to stop people from texting or talking and driving.

“The fines should be even higher.

“Especially teenagers and young people are often on their phones.

But more mature people not as much,” she said.

“You don’t know when an accident is going to happen.”

Ken McGinness said he thinks the new higher fines and penalties, are “just about right.”

So will the new fines actually work?

“It won’t stop it, but it might slow it down,” he said.

The changes to the fines mean that provincial officials consider distracted driving a “high-risk” offence, on par with speeding, driving without due care and attention.

Sean Kennedy said he thinks anything that makes people put their cell phones or other devices down while they are driving is a positive step.

“I think higher fines are a good idea.

“There are too many distracted drivers out there.

“It’s concerning absolutely especially when you have children in the car. Some people on the road are just not paying attention. It’s important that we dissuade them.”

He likened the need for high penalties to what was done for drinking and driving.

“Losing their licence will definitely be a deterrent, said Kennedy

Vikram Sachdava said he was not in favour of the increased penalties for distracted driving.

He was the only one of the respondents who replied to the Progress’ street survey to say he was opposed to higher fines.

“I don’t like the idea. It’s insane.”

He called it a “money grab” given the already high cost of living in the Lower Mainland.

“Distracted driving could be eating, or anything when someone is not paying attention.

“I travel to Surrey and back all the time. I see cops on their computers while at the wheel. If there’s going to be a law, everyone has to follow it.”

He was actually hit in a vehicle collision by someone who was texting and driving.

“So maybe increase the fines. But not that much.”