Distracted driving has become a pressing national concern. A driver talking on a cell phone can be as dangerous as a drunk driver, and the resulting in a Vancouver car accident can be just as deadly. An estimated 25 percent of the car accident fatalities in British Columbia between the years of 2009 and 2013 involved distracted drivers. In addition, an average of 12 people each year are killed on Vancouver Island in distracted driving accidents, according to the Times Colonist.
In an effort to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents, the BC government is mulling tougher restrictions and harsher penalties for drivers who engage in distracted driving behavior. The hope is that a government crackdown would bring a sharp drop in the number of car accidents involving distracted drivers. Of course, drivers can also take action on their own to manage common driver distractions and reduce risk to self and others. An alert and attentive driver is far less likely to be involved in a serious or fatal collision.
Since 2008, every Canadian province and territory except Nunavut has restricted the use of handheld cell phones by drivers, according to the CBC. Although the rules vary from province to province, drivers who violate them face fines, demerit points and other penalties.
Cell phones are only one source of distracted driving accidents, a problem that grows with each passing year. About 4 million North American car accidents – or eight out of every 10 accidents – involve driver distraction each year, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
One of the pitfalls of living in a technology-driven society is the constant desire to remain connected at all times, and the belief that it is necessary to multi-task. These days it’s a rare moment indeed when people are completely free of the distraction of computers, tablets or smartphones. Even when people are traveling, family, friends and co-workers often expect them to have a cellphone close to check emails and text messages. Many people also eat or drink while driving to save time.
Distractions may be fine when you are at work or home. But it’s dangerous to multi-task, text, talk on a cellphone, eat, groom, or engage in other driver distractions while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. That conduct significantly increases your chances of being involved in a deadly car accident. Driving requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. Even when a driver takes only a few seconds to glance down at his or her phone, that momentary distraction can have a catastrophic result.
The focus on handheld cell phone use by drivers is valuable to protect public health. But it also can mislead drivers into thinking that handheld devices are the only way to become distracted behind the wheel. In fact, any activity inside or outside a vehicle can distract a driver’s attention and cause a crash.
Distractions reduce a driver’s ability to drive safely in three main ways:
The safest driving occurs when all three faculties – eyes, hands, and mind – remain on the task of driving.
In an effort to get feedback from the public on how existing restrictions and penalties should be changed, a discussion was initiated on the BC’s distracted driving consultation website. What this discussion revealed was that most people in BC believe the existing penalties for distracted drivers are too low to be effective in deterring this reckless behavior.
BC apparently has one of the lowest distracted driving fines in Canada, with drivers currently only facing penalties for the use of a hand-held device. These penalties include a $167 fine and the possibility of three demerit points on a driving record. If the fine for distracted driving can be increased to at least $200, or as high as $750, drivers may not be as willing to engage in activities that distract them from the task of driving.
Vehicle impoundment is one penalty being looked at by the BC government in instances where drivers are found to have been texting or talking on a cellphone while operating a vehicle. Another proposal involves roadside license suspensions, such as those given to alleged drunk or drug-impaired drivers.
When one motorist becomes distracted, another driver, a passenger, a bicyclist or a pedestrian may pay the price. Injuries in a distracted driving crash can be severe, including:
If you are hurt in a distracted driving accident, you may be eligible for compensation from the driver at fault. Here are some common types of damages that may be awarded following a distracted driving accident:
Distracted driving accidents are entirely avoidable. Every driver has a responsibility to do his or her part to protect others on the road. When a driver ignores this responsibility and you or someone you love is injured, don’t wait: Contact the experienced lawyers at Klein Lawyers.
We work as a team to pursue the compensation each of our clients deserves. Your initial consultation is free and confidential.