A Quebec coroner is recommending Quebec's auto insurance board toughen penalties for using cellphones while driving.
The recommendation stems from an investigation a fatal head-on collision, which Quebec coroner Yvon Garneau blames on the distraction of a cell phone.
Both drivers died in the St-Guillaume collision on Route 122, despite the fact that it was a sunny day with good driving conditions.
According to the report, one of the drivers was distracted when his cellphone rang. The investigation concluded that while reaching for his phone, the driver swerved into the oncoming lane and collided with the other vehicle.
Now, Garneau is recommending that Quebec’s auto insurance board increase the maximum punishment for people caught with a cellphone in hand while driving from three to nine demerit points.
Currently the fine handed to drivers for using a cell phone is $115.
But the head of Quebec's Road Safety Task Force said increasing the number of demerit points won’t make much of a difference on its own.
"Awareness, tough legislation, and enforcement — what the coroner Garneau is talking about is tough legislation, but we need all three features to be involved if we want to change behaviours," said Jean-Marie de Koninck.
De Koninck acknowleges more needs to be done to encourage drivers not to use cell phones while at the wheel.
He says his task force will look at the issue ahead of its next round of recommendations for the government, expected to be presented in the Fall.