Penalties for distracted driving have risen as handheld device use has become a bigger problem. (Black Press files)

ICBC tests new distracted driving prevention technology

Phone app prevents drivers from using devices while driving

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. is starting two pilot projects using new technology to prevent distracted driving.

ICBC plans to recruit 200 volunteer drivers to test a smartphone app connected to a device on their vehicles. The system prevents use of the phone while the vehicle is in operation. Attorney-General David Eby said people interested in testing the device and giving input into how it should be used can go to www.icbc.com to sign up.

The other pilot project is a Bluetooth-enabled scope to be used by police. The scope will capture an image that can be shared with other officers in an area for traffic enforcement, and officers will be able to immediately show a distracted driver the image.

“Distracted driving is serious high-risk behaviour, which is now responsible for more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in our province,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. “If new technology can help police and drivers alike put an end to distracted driving, then we’ll have helped make roads safer in B.C.”

RELATED: B.C. to hike distracted driving penalties

The B.C. government announced Nov. 6 that penalties are increased for drivers who get a second distracted driving ticket within two years. The combination of fines and ICBC penalty points for the second offence in that time could total $2,000, when the new ICBC rules take effect in March 2018.

Government figures show that 25 per cent of fatal accidents in B.C. are now related to distracted driving, with an average of 78 deaths per year. With the rise of mobile devices, distraction is approaching impaired driving as a leading cause of injury and death on roads.


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tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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