Distracted Driving Could Soon be Leading Cause of Teen Death in B.C.

At the moment, distracted driving isn't the leading cause of death for British Columbia's teenage motorists, but that will soon change. That's the prediction coming from Steve Wallace of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver island. 
"Texting … will quickly become in Canada the chief cause of death behind the wheel for teens," Wallace said to CBC News. "It is time that the penalties for texting [and driving] are exactly the same as impaired driving."

Emperical data from police-reported crashes gives validity to Wallace's statement. One of every 10 drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were killed while driving distracted in 2013, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The report also shows teenagers easily accounted for the largest proportion of distracted drivers.

More teenagers died as a result of distracted driving than drunken driving that very same year, according to Cohen Children's Medical Center, who said 3,000 teenage deaths stem from distracted driving, while 2,700 are the result of impairment. 

A motorist in B.C. caught texting, emailing or reading an electronic device faces a $167 citation and three driver penalty points. Impaired drivers can see their vehicle impounded for up to a month and fines between $200 and $400 if their blood-alcohol content is between .05 and .08. 

Drivers registering a B.A.C. higher than .08 automatically lose their license for three months, are fined $500 and enrolled in driver safety programs. Their vehicle is also impounded for a month.

"When the penalties are the same and they befit the activity, then you'll see a change in behaviour," Wallace told the news agency.