In an effort to curb distracted driving in Ontario, the province may pass legislation to increase the fines and demerit points associated with texting while driving.
The new law, to be proposed when legislature resumes October 20, would mean texting motorists could face a fine of $1,000 and three demerit points on their licence. These would be the most rigorous penalties in Canada, compared to Alberta, New Brunswick and Quebec, which fine drivers approximately $117 to $172 with a varying amount of points for similar offenses.
…Texting drivers could face a fine of $1,000 and three demerit points on their licence…
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca notes the changes are, in part, an attempt to create a more robust public awareness campaign to educate drivers on the dangers associated with distracted driving. Though the province has seen what Del Duca calls a tremendous improvement in impaired driving, more can always be done to keep our roads safe.
A bill proposing the increases was initially introduced last March by Del Ducas predecessor Glen Murray, but it did not pass before the election held in June. Del Duca believes the bill will see a great deal of support in the legislature with the actual proposal.
While the number of deaths caused by impaired driving may be down, those resulting from distracted drivers have surpassed that rate; in 2013, 78 people died in distracted driving accidents compared to 57 for impaired driving and 44 from speeding collisions.
Not only will distracted driving be affected by these changes, but motorists who hit cyclists with their car doors will receive the same punishment.
While a fine is inconvenient, demerits can be more detrimental to some drivers, especially newer ones. Two to five points necessitates a warning letter; six to eight garners and interview or suspension of licence; and nine or more leads to loss of driving privileges for 60 days.
More demerits accumulated could also lead to higher insurance rates.
The proposed legislation would also require drivers maintain a one-metre distance from cyclists while on the road, and motorists will have to wait until pedestrians cross entirely before passing through a crosswalk.
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