Toronto, Ontario -- July 14, 2014 -- Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says her newly-elected majority government intends to introduce stiffer fines for distracted drivers following the release of a new survey suggesting an alarming number of students use their mobile phones when behind the wheel.
Premier Wynne feels it's critically important to condition teenaged drivers as they're just beginning to text-and-drive, as the habit can become more difficult to break as young drivers age. In response to the study, Wynne says her re-elected government will re-introduce legislation that will stiffen fines and add demerit points specifically for distracted operations of a vehicle.
The survey, conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found that more than one-third of licensed Ontario drivers between grades 10 and 12 texted on their phones at least once in the last year while behind the wheel. This amounts to approximately 108,000 teenagers. In addition, across Ontario's grade 12 students alone, the study found that nearly 50 percent of those who drive have texted while driving.
Interestingly the same survey noted that drinking and driving deaths among teenagers has sharply decreased drastically over the last 20 years, while alarmingly noting that driving deaths in connection with texting-and-driving happen more frequently than drinking-related deaths.
The bill, originally introduced prior to the calling of the June 12 election, would have imposed a $1,000 fine and imposed three demerit points on drivers committing distracted driving infractions.
In 2009 Ontario banned the use of handheld devices to text, email or talk with the exception of making 911 phone calls. In fact Ontario's courts have deemed it illegal to even hold a phone while operating a vehicle. In addition to phones, drivers are prohibited from using additional handheld devices such as portable gaming systems and DVD players.
Concerned that fines weren't stiff enough, with 235,000 charges laid between 2011 and 2014, the government increased distracted driving fines in March 2014 to $280, but did not include the addition of demerit points. It is hoped that the re-introduced legislation will dissuade all drivers from operating handheld devices while driving to make the roads safer.
For further information, please read "Nearly 50 per cent of grade 12 students in Ontario report texting while driving" on CollisionRepairMag.com.