Distracted driving is a serious problem for drivers everywhere today. The Insurance Corporation of B.C. estimates that roughly 25 per cent of all crashes involve distracted driving. It kills approximately 78 people per year in B.C.
While distractions are everywhere—from the stereo to passengers—one particular distraction is becoming more and more worrisome: your smartphone. Your phone not only provides a means for you to contact others via phone call, text, and social media, it also offers navigation and entertainment while you drive.
Your phone can be extremely useful for actual driving activities, like providing directions, listening to podcasts, and listening to books. However, if your phone is not correctly set up, looking down to view these “valid” driving functions can still make the device dangerous. Ensuring that your phone is in a safe location to do its job can help you stay focused on the road and avoid accidents. In British Columba, it is not only a safe practice to mount your phone, butthe law also requires it.
Distracted Driving Laws in B.C.
British Columbia has harsh distracted driving laws. However, drivers’ obligations under these rules are not always easy to follow. Nonetheless, failing to adhere to specific requirements can cost you $368 in fines per violation. In fact, since the program began in 2010, officials have collected $48 million in fines!
Anyone who watches a screen on an electronic device can be in violation of the B.C. distracted driving laws. Even touching the device (other than to quickly answer a call) is an offence under these stringent requirements.
Thankfully, there is an exception for those who want to use their phone as a GPS, but you must follow very specific mounting procedures for your phone. You must also ensure that your settings are entirely hands-free to use the navigation feature on your phone.
Mounting Your Phone Properly
Your phone must be either in your pocket or secured to the dashboard or vent to comply with B.C. distracted driving laws. It must not interfere with the safety or operation of the vehicle in any way. That means that it cannot block your view of the road at all, which includes both the front and the side windows of the vehicle. If you are using the GPS feature, the phone must be programmed before you leave; you cannot input data while you drive.
You can purchase a phone mount for between $10 and $100, depending on the quality and complexity of the product. You can find these devices in drug stores and electronics shops. Ideally, you should be able to affix this device to your dashboard or vent in a way that only forces you to look down slightly to see your GPS system.
The law does not define what it means when it requires that the device be “securely fixed” to the motor vehicle. However, this requirement may not be very stringent because the goal is to simply get the device out of your hands so you can keep both hands on the wheel.
Because the phone cannot block your view, mounting your phone on your window is likelynot a good idea. Stick to placing it on the dashboard or attaching it to a vent instead.
Getting Legal Help After an Accident
If you have been in an accident with someone who may not have mounted their phone correctly and was distracted, you might be able to collect compensation. The team at Diamond & Diamond will be able to examine the situation and help you work through your legal options. We offer a free case evaluation service for this purpose. Call today for more information.