MONTREAL, QUE. (NEWS 1130) – Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau is proposing the creation of a tough national standard to help crack down on distracted drivers using their cellphones when behind the wheel.
While dangerous driving is covered under Canada’s Criminal Code, cases involving distracted driving falls under provincial responsibility that can result in fines and demerit points that vary widely across the entire country.
Garneau last week sent a letter to his provincial counterparts calling for stiffer penalties for texting and talking on cellphones while driving.
The minister has yet to get a response from provinces. However, he says governments need to act more quickly to this growing issue than it did in the past to combat drunk driving.
He declined to say if he would like to see cars taken away from drivers found guilty of distracted driving but says stricter standards are required.
Last summer, the BC government raised fines for distracted driving. Those caught with a phone in their hand while behind the wheel now have to pay a minimum of $543. That’s the sum of an initial $368 fine (an increase from the previous fine of $167) and the $175 cost to pay off points against the licence.
Each offence will come with four penalty points, up from the existing three. With a minimum ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium of $520, a second offence within one year will cost $888. A fifth offence will cost $3,760 and a 10th runs $14,520.