Fewer British Columbians Are Noticing Distracted Drivers on Roads

Almost two thirds of the province’s residents support seizing the electronic devices of repeat offenders.

Vancouver, BC [April 19, 2022] – While the proportion of British Columbians who are detecting distracted drivers has dropped since 2020, most of the province’s residents think it is time for tougher penalties to deal with this issue, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 46% of British Columbians say they witnessed a driver talking on a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving over the past four weeks, down nine points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in December 2020.

Men (50%) and British Columbians aged 18-to-34 (52%) are more likely to say that they crossed paths with a distracted driver than women (43%) and British Columbians aged 35-to-54 (47%) and aged 55 and over (42%).

Drivers caught emailing, texting, or using an electronic device while driving in British Columbia face a fine of $368 and four penalty points (equivalent to $252) in their insurance penalty point premium. This means a total of $620 for a first-time infraction.

A majority of British Columbians (56%, +4) say the current fine for distracted driving in the province is “about right”, while 24% (-6) deem it “too low” and 15% (+1) consider it “too high.”

While one third of residents of Vancouver Island (33%) believe the current penalty for distracted driving is “too low”, the proportion is lower in Northern BC (29%), the Fraser Valley (22%), Southern BC (21%) and Metro Vancouver (also 21%).

More than half of British Columbians are in favour of three different penalties for drivers caught emailing, texting, or using an electronic device in the province, although the level of support for each one is lower in 2022 than in 2020.

Across the province, 52% of British Columbians (-2) support suspending drivers who break the law for a year, while 41% (+4) are opposed to this course of action.

“The notion of suspending distracted drivers for 12 months is contentious on a regional basis,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “While 54% of residents of Metro Vancouver, Southern BC and Vancouver Island like the idea, the proportion drops to 44% in Northern BC and to 42% in the Fraser Valley.”

More than half of the province’s residents (55%, -4) are in favour of doubling the current first-time fine to $1,240, while almost two thirds (64%, -6) support seizing the electronic devices of repeat offenders.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from April 1 to April 5, 2022, among 650 adults in British Columbia who are employed full time or part time. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is +/- 3.9 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e] mario.canseco@researchco.ca