B.C. is moving to designate distracted driving as a high-risk behaviour and increasing the penalties for those caught on an electronic device behind the wheel.

The change announced Monday means a driver with two distracted driving tickets in a three-year period will see their total financial penalties rise to almost $2,000—that's $740 more than the current penalties.

"This change will treat distracted driving as the serious high-risk behaviour that it is—one that is on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding," attorney general David Eby said in a release.

Right now, drivers could pay up to $1,256 in total fines and points when they get two distracted driving tickets in three years. With the new Driver Risk Premium, they'll pay $1,996. That's on top of regular insurance premiums.

According to ICBC's website, an average of 78 people die every year in car crashes in B.C. where distracted driving was a factor. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers are five times more likely to crash if they're on their phone.

Distracted driving refers to drivers caught using a hand-held electronic device. In other instances of distraction, police also have the ability to issue tickets for other offences such as driving without due care and attention.

The provincial government says it will use the additional $3 million to $5 million in additional annual premiums collected from this change to offset ICBC's basic insurance rate pressures for drivers across the province.