Province Gets Tough on Distracted Driving

Photo by Intel Free Press via Flickr

For people who text and drive, the bad habit is now going to cost them even more.

Higher fines for distracted driving take effect Tuesday, which means drivers fiddling with phones or playing with their GPS behind the wheel will pay $280 is caught instead of the previous fine of $155.

If the Ontario government gets its way, those fines could go up again sometime soon.

On Monday, the Liberal government announced it’s introducing legislation that would hike the fine up anywhere from $300 – $1,000, and would tack three demerit points onto a distracted driving charge under the Highway Traffic Act.

Middlesex OPP Constable Laurie Houghton says they support any measure that might stop drivers from reaching for a phone.

Constable Houghton is also reminding drivers that it’s not just texting or calling they are watching for,  she says you could also get pulled over for eating, playing with a GPS or reading a map behind the wheel.

Middlesex OPP say during a seven-day blitz across the province, they handed out 15 tickets for distracted driving and one careless driving charge that involved a cell phone.

The Ontario Provincial Police now say distracted driving is the number one killer on Ontario roads, surpassing the number of impaired driving fatalities.

The Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act would also support the following amendments to the Highway Traffic Act:

  • Increasing fines for drivers for dooring cyclists from a range of $60 – $500 to range of $300 – $1,000 and raising the demerit points from two to three
  • Requiring all drivers to maintain a distance of one metre when passing cyclists
  • Requiring drivers to yield the whole roadway to pedestrians at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers