PRINCE GEORGE – With the provincial government’s public consultation on distracted driving at its half-way point, local MLAs Shirley Bond and Mike Morris encourage northern British Columbians to participate.

“Our government is considering potential changes to the penalties for distracted driving. While there has been a good response in many parts of British Columbia, I want to be sure that Northern British Columbians have a chance to share their views and currently they are underrepresented in the input we have received to date,” Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond said. “Distracted driving is now the second highest contributing factor in motor vehicle fatalities on B.C. roads. Last year nearly 90 people did not make it home to their families and loved ones because of accidents caused by distracted driving. Please take a few minutes and ensure that your views are included in the consultation process.”

So far, there have been nearly 12,000 visits to the consultation’s website, gov.bc.ca/distracteddriving, and over 36,000 responses have been provided to the provincial government’s nine questions about the subject.

Of those who have left feedback, nearly 90 per cent say they’re “very concerned” about distracted driving and 96 per cent support escalating sanctions for repeat offenders. Most favour increasing fines and have indicated a combination of sanctions are needed to make people stop using their handheld devices while driving.

“I’m encouraged British Columbians are taking the issues of distracting driving seriously and want to see stiffer penalties imposed on those who put lives needlessly at risk,” Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris said. “Northern B.C. residents have until July 16 to have their say. It only takes a few minutes to do online and by doing so, you could help save lives – including your own.”

The provincial government’s consultation runs until July 16. To add your voice, you can visit the gov.bc.ca/distracteddriving website or tweet @RoadSafetyBC using the #DistractedBC hashtag.

In 2014, 88 people died on B.C. roads due to distracted driving while police issued more than 55,000 distracted driving tickets last year. B.C.’s current distracted driving penalties, a $167 fine and three penalty points, are the second-lowest in Canada.