Texting and driving

Texting and driving is too common on P.E.I. streets and highways, says Transportation Minister Robert Vessey. (CBC)

The Holland College Student Union on P.E.I. is putting out the message that texting and driving is dangerous.

The union has partnered with P.E.I.'s transportation minister, insurance industry representatives and others. Student union president Greg Gairns told CBC News Thursday Holland College has a lot of commuting students.

"It's a big issue for us because that means more of our students are out on the road, they're leaving after school and they want to chat to their friends about the day. They don't want to wait until they get home, they want to talk about it now," said Gairns.

"You hear that little ding or vibration, it's really hard to do but you've got to put it away."

Greg Gairns

Holland College Student Union general manager Greg Gairns (CBC)

Some research shows texting and driving makes it 23 times more likely you'll get into a crash or near-crash.

"It's as serious as impaired driving on our highways," said Transportation Minister Robert Vessey, adding that fines could be going up from the current $475.

"We're looking at raising that to a maximum of maybe around $1,200. We're look at also increasing the demerit points from three to five.

Gairns said increasing the penalties will help make students think again about texting and driving. Vessey hopes to see the fines increased within the next year.