Movie character Deadpool rides in a taxi driven by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in driver advocate Chris Thompson’s latest video. Mozart’s face was added to illustrate that if all he did was drive a car, he might still be alive today based on the declining risk. (SenseBC)

Cell phone tickets worse tax grab than speed limits, SenseBC says

Distracted driving statistics questioned as B.C. tickets pile up

Chris Thompson’s first traffic safety video in 2013 led to increased speed limits on some B.C. highways, and he’s hoping his latest one prompts similar reforms to the wave of distracted driving tickets for cell phone use.

The latest controversy involves $368 traffic tickets being issued to B.C. drivers for having their phones sitting in a cupholder to charge while driving, or being held in hand at a stop light but not used.

Thompson’s new video, produced for driver advocacy group SenseBC, is called Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2: Lying with Statistics. It reveals how accident data have been selectively fed to news media to reinforce a need for a crackdown on cell phone use. That has produced a blitz of 40,000 cell phone-related tickets in recent years, with only two deaths actually related to cell phone use, while over the same period, 100 deaths for other types of distraction, prompted fewer than 5,700 tickets.

“So why the huge enforcement blitz for these two people?” Thompson asks in the video. “It’s because it’s so, so easy, and drivers have money.”

Thompson and Sense BC’s Ian Tootill argue that no one has ever died from looking at a cell phone while stopped at a traffic light, and almost none have died in cell phone-related crashes of any kind.

RELATED: Phone in cupholder isn’t OK, public safety minister says

RELATED: Speed limits being rolled back on 15 B.C. highways

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact environment

Thompson’s statistics show that the rise of cell phone use and phone-related tickets has actually corresponded with a decline in distracted driving deaths. Between 2007 and 2016, annual distracted driving fatalities fell from 100 to 80 per year. Over the same period, impaired driving fatalities fell even more, from 170 to just below 80.

The decline in impaired deaths has been used in recent years by Premier John Horgan, Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to emphasize that distracted driving is now “worse” than impaired driving, and that cell phones are the key culprit. This is the “lying with statistics” that justifies the cell phone blitz as statistics improve, which has so far been supported by one judge in a ticket dispute.

Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2 also reviews the way Transportation Minister Claire Trevena skewed accident statistics to justify reducing highway speed limits that were increased to as much as 120 km/h. Trevena rolled back speed limits on 15 sections of highway where they were raised in 2014 by former minister Todd Stone.

Thompson points out that some years were selectively omitted, and that the effect of two harsh winters on crash statistics was also left out, despite the fact that on some highways, actual speeds went down as crashes rose due to bad highway conditions.

Much of the video is devoted to deconstructing Global TV news reports, which breathlessly depict cell phones and increased speed limits as reckless killers of B.C. motorists. Thompson said most media outlets fell for the narrative that supports a massive revenue grab, much of it going to ICBC for penalty points and insurance rate hikes as costs and tickets increase.

“Take statistical news stories with a huge grain of salt, because a lot of times they’re biased towards sensationalism,” Thompson says in the video.

Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2 includes a testimonial from a retired West Vancouver traffic officer, who says the fatalities show he was being ordered by government and ICBC to enforce the wrong things.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

RCMP launch month-long impaired driving counterattack campaign

Carpooling, designated drivers, taxi, public transit all better choices than driving while impaired

BC Hydro reservoirs see record low levels across Vancouver Island

Hydro electric watersheds are at a third of their normal levels

North Island Rising: Your city budget planning process already in full swing

Don’t wait until that tax notice arrives before starting the conversation

Strike taking a toll on families of WFP workers with Christmas approaching

Vancouver Islanders rally to provide assistance through grassroots charity campaigns

Judge dismisses second appeal of Victoria man who murdered unarmed man in 2010 botched robbery

Andrew Jonathon Belcourt has had two trials after his first appeal was granted

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Camosun College for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Carriageworks Restorations come together to care for car

‘Nightmare’ Wellburns sewage flood ousts tenants indefinitely

Residents evacuated after sewage flooded basement of century-old building

Habitat for Humanity opens four homes in Comox Valley, capping record year

Area chapter finishes eight homes during one year for first time

B.C. Transit saves $300,000, scores 28 used fareboxes from California

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Canada home to 6.5 million people with one or more disability

Women are more likely than men to be living with disability

Getting into the holiday spirits in a mindful way

Alcohol production demands various amounts of water, land and energy use, notes columnist

You’re part of the show in Belfry’s newest production

Every Brilliant Thing uses a recreated, more intimate theatre space for this holiday offering

Mexico in December

Why you should the country’s most popular beach destinations before peak season

Up to 1,500 new rental units proposed for Victoria

More than a million square feet of rental units proposed for downtown Yates Street development

Most Read