B.C. & Saskatchewan Ban Hand-held Device Use While Driving

January 4, 2010
It's now illegal to talk and text while driving in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, putting them in line with most other provinces.

But while Saskatchewan has been handing out tickets already, B.C. officers are holding off for a month.

Drivers in provinces following the ban can now only use hands-free cellphones and devices.

In B.C., fines will be handed out starting on Feb. 1. Anyone caught driving and talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device can expect a $167 fine. Drivers caught texting or emailing can also be subject to three points against their driving licence.

People classified as drivers in the "learner" or "novice" stage of the province's graduated licensing program (GLP) are barred from using any type of cellphone while behind the wheel.

According to independent research and studies, cellphone use while driving is the No. 1 cause of distracted driving, the B.C. Solicitor General's Ministry said when it introduced the legislation last fall.

On average, 117 people die each year in B.C. and 1,400 are sent to hospital because someone was not paying attention behind the wheel, the release said.

In Saskatchewan, all drivers using hand-held cellphones to talk, text, email or surf the internet face a $280 fine and receive four demerit points on their licence.

With the new laws coming into effect on New Year's Day, B.C. and Saskatchewan bring their legislation in line with Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Alberta and the Yukon are considering similar distracted-driving legislation.

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