NEWS

Distracted driving punishments to rise in Ontario

10/21/2014 01:25 EDT | Updated 12/21/2014 05:59 EST
The minimum fine for distracted driving will more than double under proposed changes to Ontario's driving laws put forward Tuesday by the government. 

The changes to the Highway Traffic Act will take fines for distracted driving from between $60 and $500 to between $300 and $1,000, and will cost the driver three demerit points upon conviction. 

Distracted driving will also be added to the list of violations that, for novice drivers, result in a 30-day license suspension. 

“If passed, our legislation will help keep pedestrians, drivers and cyclists safe on Ontario’s  roads," Steven Del Duca, the province's minister of transportation, told reporters Tuesday. The changes are to be tabled Tuesday afternoon. 

Further proposed changes include: 

- Applying current drunk-driving punishments to drivers who are on drugs. 

- Requiring drivers to wait until a pedestrian has completely crossed the road before proceeding at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers.

- Increasing fines and demerits for drivers who "door" cyclists, and requiring drivers to stay one metre away "where practicable" when passing cyclists. 

The OPP earlier this year called distracted driving the "number one killer" on Ontario's roads. Last year 78 people died in crashes related to distracted driving, compared to 57 deaths connected to impaired driving and 44 connected to high speed.

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