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Stiffer penalties mulled for distracted driving in Ontario


A growing menace on Ontario's streets, roads, and highways has lawmakers and police scrambling to keep up. For the second time in a year, the provincial government is planning a big jump in fines for distracted drivers. Concerns are even higher this week as students across the province return to school after their summer break.
Police in Ontario say distracted driving, mainly the use of cell phones or texting, has become the number one killer on the roads, surpassing even that of impaired driving or speeding as the causes of crashes.

The Ontario Provincial Police has revealed that at least 35 people have died so far this year in collisions in what a distracted driver was a contributing factor. Last year, 86 people died in similar collisions.

The issue has become so acute that earlier this year fines for distracted driving were almost doubled from $155 to $280. A plan to double them again was shelved when the June 12 election was called.

Now, the governing Liberal party is set to re-introduce the legislation and that could increase the maximum fine to $1,000. It would also affect an individual's driving record with three demerit points.

Provincial police also say by the end of June, 10,000 charges were brought against motorists in Ontario who were caught driving while distracted.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.