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Hands-free phones in cars given green light

Jan 07 2012

B.C. has no plans to beef up its distracted driving law by banning hands-free cellular devices, Solicitor General Shirley Bond said Friday.

The existing ban on using cellphones while driving has resulted in a 12 per cent drop in crashes resulting in serious injury since the law came into effect on Feb. 1, 2010, Bond said.

"That, to me, is progress," she said. "We could continue to legislate, but, at the end of the day, much of this comes down to using common sense. If you are going to text and drive a vehicle at the same time, you are putting your life and others at risk."

Drivers caught talking or texting on an electronic device while behind the wheel face a fine of $167 and three penalty points on their licence.

Drivers are allowed to use hands-free devices to talk on the phone and Bond appears to have ruled out expanding the ban to encompass them.

"We're not anticipating any additional legislation at this point in time," she said.

Between Feb. 1, 2010, and Sept. 30 last year, police issued 46,008 tickets to people for talking on cellphones while driving and another 1,372 for emailing or texting while driving, according to the Solicitor General's Ministry.

The number of tickets written for distracted driving was up 34 per cent in 2011 compared with 2010, the ministry said.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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