Having your cellphone close at hand in your vehicle cupholder does not comply with B.C. law against distracted driving, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says.
Farnworth was asked Wednesday about a recent case of a woman issued a $368 ticket for distracted driving, after Vancouver Police stopped her in a routine check.
“I can’t comment on individual cases, but what I can tell you is the law is clear,” Farnworth told reporters at the B.C. legislature Wednesday. “The cellphone is supposed to be mounted, and it’s not accessible. The police do have some discretion, and obviously if people feel that they were ticketed unfairly, they have the ability to fight that in court.”
Richmond resident Randi Kramer, a senior in her 70s, began the process of doing just that, and her lawyer reported Oct. 2 that police had cancelled the ticket. Her son also protested on social media that his mother’s phone was connected to Bluetooth for hands-free use at the time.
Vancouver Police issued a statement declining to comment on any single case, adding that drivers may be ticketed for “using an electronic device even if they are not touching it.” This would apply if a device is turned on, within reach of the driver, and causing the driver to be distracted while driving, the statement said.
The current B.C. legislation states that holding the phone or “operating one or more of the device’s functions” qualifies as distracted driving.
Farnworth said police vigilance is warranted, given the growing problem of distracted driving accidents across North America.
“To me what’s always been important is cracking down on distracted driving, and what I’ve seen in the vast majority of cases are in fact people who are using their cellphones.”