BCAA urges parents to set good example for teen drivers who now face tougher
penalties for cell phone violations

BURNABY, BC, Feb. 1 /CNW/ - With the warning period for drivers using cell phones now over, BCAA urges parents of teen drivers to talk to them about the special rules that apply to new and novice drivers, and to set a good driving example for all family members. Starting today, February 1, 2010, any adult driver caught talking on a hand-held phone will receive a $167 fine, and anyone caught texting or emailing will receive the fine plus three penalty points. But new and novice drivers - those in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) stage - are banned from using either hand-held or hands-free phones, and face more severe penalties if caught doing so.

For example, "Learner" or "Novice" stage drivers who are caught texting or talking on their phones will automatically be assessed three penalty points in addition to the $167 fine, plus they lose the potential for graduating six months early from the "N" stage (as their driving record must be violation-free). Also, any driver in the GLP who accumulates penalty points could face a license suspension and have to start the 24-month "N" stage over again after they wait-out their suspension time.

"The extra restrictions and penalties for new and novice drivers have been put in place for good reasons," explains Trace Acres, director of corporate communications and government relations for BCAA, which has been advocating for a ban on the use of mobile communications devices by drivers in the GLP since 2006.

"Young and inexperienced drivers are over-represented in collision statistics, and therefore need to be as free as they can from distractions while learning to drive and gaining experience behind the wheel," says Acres. "Parents can play a huge role in the safety of their teen drivers by ensuring they know the rules, by setting parameters and by modeling safe driving behaviours.

Studies show that when parents and other adult role models set boundaries and take an active role in driving education, the new driver's chances of being in a crash can be reduced by up to a third. With this in mind, program coordinators at the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation developed a workshop designed for parents of teens and young drivers called In the Driver's Seat. The workshop assists parents in assessing their teenager's readiness to move through the licensing stages and helps them establish boundaries and consequences. More information can be found on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation website at www.tsfbcaa.com.

BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C., with over 100 years experience and gross annual sales of nearly $400 million from its membership, insurance and travel businesses. A BCAA Membership can be found in the wallets of nearly 790,000 British Columbians and in one-in-four B.C. households. For the past two years, BCAA has received the highest score in Canada for home insurance customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power and Associates study. And, for the past four years, BCAA has been named one the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail's Report on Business magazine. To learn more about BCAA's products, services and member advocacy, visit www.bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation visit www.tsf-bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

For further information: For further information: or to request an interview, please contact: Trace Acres, BCAA Director, Corporate Communications & Government Affairs, Tel: (604) 268-5029, Cell: (604) 788-3753, Email: trace.acres@bcaa.com


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