Editorial Exchange: Garneau Is Right to Urge Consistent Rules against Distracted Driving

By Star, Toronto | The Canadian Press, March 3, 2017 | Go to article overview

Editorial Exchange: Garneau Is Right to Urge Consistent Rules against Distracted Driving


Star, Toronto, The Canadian Press


Editorial Exchange: Garneau is right to urge consistent rules against distracted driving

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published March 2:

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau's call for tougher penalties against distracted driving heads in the right direction, toward having the same rules across the country on texting and talking while behind the wheel.

It makes sense that drivers in every part of Canada should face the same sanctions for this unsafe behaviour. Garneau's move is welcome: he sent a letter to his provincial counterparts calling for stricter penalties that are "nationally consistent" in the way they are handed out and enforced, and "uniform across the country."

It's also sensible that Garneau is not calling right now for making distracted driving a criminal offence. That's the only way the federal government could act alone to toughen penalties.

Working with the provinces and territories first is better. In any case, using a handheld device while driving is already a criminal offence if it becomes dangerous driving.

Sadly, this has been happening all too often. The Ontario Provincial Police reported last year that by mid-August, twice as many road deaths had involved distracted drivers than impaired ones.

Garneau's call to make the rules the same everywhere in Canada could ultimately deter more motorists from picking up their phones before they end up facing a criminal charge or involved in a crash. While penalties for distracted driving have generally become stiffer since laws were first introduced in 2008, fines for texting and talking now vary widely across the country.

They range from a high of $1,200 in Prince Edward Island to a mere $80-$100 in Quebec, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. …

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