The government is really starting to crack down on ‘distracted driving’ – or more specifically, texting or using a mobile device in general while driving. While nobody likes to pay a fine, the government is acting in the best interest of all concerned. According to a study done by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), 90-percent of those polled frowned on texting while driving, yet 22-percent of respondents admitted that they either text or read messages while driving. Participants also said that they observed, on average, six people texting while driving in the last month alone. It is because of this that Ontario is upping the fines and demerit points for those caught doing distractive driving, effective September 1 2015.
The stiffer fines are part of Bill 31 – Making Ontario Roads Safer Act – that passed in June. According to the new law, a novice driver with a G1, G, M1, M2, M-L or M2-M license could face up to $1000 fine and a 30-day license suspension. Currently the fine for distractive driving runs from $60 – $500, but after September 1 it would increase to $490 and three demerit points and a minimum 30-day suspension for novice drivers. Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said in an email to our source, “If current trends continue, fatalities from distracted driving may exceed those from drinking and driving in the near future. And, research tells us that a driver who uses a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash.”
He added, “As part of Ontario’s steadfast commitment to road safety, on September 1st we’re getting tougher on distracted driving by increasing the set fine to $490, applying three demerit points upon conviction and introducing escalating penalties for new drivers convicted of distracted driving. All drivers need to remember: Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Don’t use hand-held devices or cell phones while driving.”
The Ontario government has been one of the most outspoken on texting while driving, especially when it comes to the young people. In April 2009, Ontario banned the use of handheld devices while driving – even then, the fine was a stiff $280. Premier Kathleen Wynne was upset about the reports she read about young people in grades 10 to 12 and the statistics surrounding them and texting while driving. Distracted driving were the number one reason for automobile accidents – a cause that never existed just a few years before. It will be interesting to see if the increase in the fines and demerits will help curb this unfortunate cause of accidents and death.