Quebec today unveiled new regulations around texting and driving. As of April 23, if you are caught in the act your license could be demerited by four points. But fines for texting and driving, which range from $115 to $154, will not change.
Quebec’s transport minister Robert Poeti says the more than 60,000 people who were caught texting and driving in 2014 only scratches the surface of the issue.
“The reality is that we didn’t reach our objective,” he said last October. “It’s a growing problem. We have a survey that says people realize this themselves, yet they continue to text.”
The move puts Quebec in the middle of the pack in Canada. According to the Canadian Auto Association, Nova Scotia has the harshest texting penalties. Get caught there and you will face four points off your license and fines that escalate to nearly $600 for a third offense.
Alberta has the softest regulations, with a $172 fine and no points demerited.
The real question around Quebec’s new laws is whether or not they go far enough. Driver distraction is now responsible for as many as 80% of motor vehicle collisions in Canada.
“With the proliferation of technology, it’s hard to say what … this is going to lead to,” said Nova Scotia RCMP Constable Mark Skinner. “We know it’s a problem already. Will the problem continue to get worse?”
In the United States, the National Research Council estimates that texting and driving is responsible for 1.6-million accidents each year. Punishment there ranges from places were it is completely legal, like Arizona, to Alaska, where you will face fines of up to $10,000 and a year in prison for your first offense.
A recent poll from the U.S. National Safety Council found that 73 percent of respondents wanted more enforcement of texting and driving laws.