People have become so incredibly dependent upon their phones that they have become appendages. The cell phone is almost always on or near our person: in our hands, in our pockets, or in our bags. Cell phones have replaced other items, including the alarm clock, the calendar, and even the computer.
This dependency on the cell phone, however, poses risks, particularly in vehicles. Many become distracted by their phone because of all of its features and because of incoming communication. Distracted driving has come into second place as the leading cause of motor vehicle fatalities.
Although British Columbia banned the use of any type of personal electronic device while driving in 2010, cell phones still appear in vehicles and people are still being charged with distracted driving.
The Cell Phone Habit
In 2016, Samuel Austin Bainbridge was driving his car on Enterprise Way in Kelowna when he was pulled over by police who saw the phone in his hand. Bainbridge was fined over $300 for using a personal electronic device while driving, but in January 2018, Bainbridge disputed the fine and claimed he was not actually using it. He was only holding it out of habit.
Although the police officers who pulled him over corroborated this fact, it still did not change the fact that the cell phone was occupying one of his hands and could prevent him from reacting appropriately should an accident occur. To make matters worse, Bainbridge was holding his phone and wallet in his hand.
Unfortunately for Bainbridge, the Motor Vehicles Act defines the use of personal electronic devices while driving as “holding the device in a position in which it may be used.” Bainbridge was ordered by the judge to pay the fine.
Since March 2016, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has been promoting safety measures against and awareness of distracted driving. According to the ICBC, people are five times more likely to have an accident because they’re on their phone. Drivers are also charged for distracted driving when they’re using their phone at a red light, in slow traffic, or stopped at a stop sign.
The ICBC encourages the use of hands-free devices if drivers must make a call, but the device must be in a fixed location and be activated or deactivated with the press of one button. The shorter the call is, the better. On the other hand, if drivers have a Learner’s or Novice license, they are not permitted to use any personal electronic device while driving even if it is a hands-free device.
At Sicotte and Sandhu, we handle many types of driving offences, including impaired driving, to protect you from encountering severe consequences, such as damage to your driving record, loss of license, fines, as well as arrests. If you need an experienced lawyer in Northern British Columbia, contact us today.