BCAA applauds new cellphone legislation; suggests drivers start to comply
with the new rules now

BURNABY, BC, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) is applauding the provincial government in introducing legislation to restrict the use of hand-held cellphones and other portable electronic devices while driving, and asks drivers: "why not start now?"

The law, which comes into effect January 1, 2010, requires that:

    -  drivers not send or read text and/or email messages;
    -  drivers not make or take phone calls, unless using a hands-free device
       with one-touch dialing; and
    -  new and novice drivers (those in the Graduated Licensing Program) not
       send or receive any phone calls or text messages, regardless of being
       hands-held or hands-free.

Hands-free cellphones will need to be built in or securely fixed to the vehicle, and used by pressing a single button - once only - in order to activate a hands-free device for incoming or outgoing calls.

BCAA encourages drivers to not wait for the law and adopt safer driving practices now. "You should get in the habit of turning off your cellphone or other handheld electronic devices before getting in the car, or leaving them in a briefcase or in the trunk where it is out of reach and won't tempt you," advises BCAA's Director of Corporate Communications and Government Relations, Trace Acres.

"Then, when you reach your destination take a minute to check for messages. Also, change your voice message to say you're currently unavailable or driving, and will return the call when it is safe to do so."

BCAA welcomes the new rules as a positive step in addressing the growing problem of driver distractions, and is especially gratified to see the complete ban on the use of mobile communications among drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program.

"Young, inexperienced drivers are over-represented in traffic crash statistics, and therefore they need to be free from distractions such as mobile communications while they learn to drive and gain experience behind the wheel," explains Acres.

"BCAA has been advocating for a ban on the use of mobile communications devices by new and novice drivers since 2006, so we are pleased the government has paid particular attention to this important demographic in the new law."

A new fine in the amount of $167 will begin to be levied on February 1, 2010. If drivers are caught texting or emailing they will receive an additional three penalty points. Drivers in the GLP will also receive the $167 fine and three penalty points for any violation of this legislation.

Legislation alone however is not going to be enough to change driver habits, adds Acres. BCAA will be looking for a substantial awareness and education campaign, as well as appropriate levels of enforcement and penalties for violators.

"Evidence from other jurisdictions where cellphone laws have been implemented shows that without sufficient education, compliance is low," says Acres. "Drivers need to understand what the law says, what the penalties are and how adherence to the law will improve traffic safety."

BCAA also encourages employers to adopt policies to protect their employees from driver distractions. A sample employer policy is available through the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation by calling 604 297-2151 or emailing allan.lamb@tsf-bcaa.com.


Also refer to July survey results: Survey shows strong support for laws restricting mobile use while driving

About BCAA

BCAA is dedicated to meeting the needs of its members and customers throughout B.C. and the Yukon, connecting them with a team of membership, automotive, travel and insurance professionals. With close to 790,000 members and $130 million in revenues, BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C. and the fourth largest CAA-affiliated association in Canada. For the past three years, BCAA was 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: Jennifer Timm, BCAA Media Relations, Tel: (604) 268-5342, Cell: (778) 228-8859, Email: jennifer.timm@bcaa.com

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