British Columbia bans texting while driving

| 10/27/2009

A new law that takes effect Jan. 1 requires “hands free” driving in the Canadian province of British Columbia. That means no texting, e-mailing or even dialing on an electronic device unless it employs hands-free technology that requires a maximum of one button to operate.

BC follows Ontario, Quebec and a few other provinces to restrict drivers’ use of electronic devices while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

Inattentive or distracted driving costs an average of 117 lives each year in BC, according to independent research cited by provincial Solicitor General Kash Heed.

“We’re taking action today because British Columbians have made it clear they support stronger restrictions on cell phones and other devices that take a driver’s hands off the wheel and their eyes from the road,” Heed said in a statement Oct. 21.

“Simply put, you cannot talk, type or dial on any hand-held device while driving.”

Educational enforcement begins Jan. 1. A violation will cost a driver $167 and three penalty points when full enforcement begins Feb. 10.

An additional restriction in the law prohibits the use of any phone for young drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program, even if the device is hands-free.

– By David Tanner, staff writer