Wanted: Driver balancing tablet on steering wheel on Hwy. 401

Stiffer penalties for distracted drivers haven't stopped scofflaws from reading tablets and watching movies while cruising down the 401, OPP say.

OPP say officers have spotted drivers texting, reading books and even watching movies on the road

OPP say they still respond to distracted driving calls almost every day. (David Horemans/CBC)

Stiffer penalties for distracted driving haven't stopped scofflaws from recording video, reading tablets and even watching movies on their phones while cruising down Hwy. 401, OPP say.

As of Jan. 1, fines for first-time offenders caught using their phones while driving more than doubled to a maximum of $1,000. Repeat offenders can expect to pay even more.

Even so, OPP West Region Insp. Shawn Johnson said officers see those types of incidents "every day"— and that drivers are often brazen.

Friday morning, police were on the hunt for a grey SUV speeding and weaving between lanes. The driver was reported to be balancing a tablet on its steering wheel with two hands, Johnson said.

And that's not even the worst of it. 

"Just the other day, we had two gentlemen in their vehicle with a device fastened to the front windshield, watching a movie," said Johnson.

"This type of behaviour continuously happens, from regular texting, to looking at a map, to actually watching movies, reading books on the highways."

Johnson said police didn't manage to catch either the tablet-reader or the movie buff driver.

Police were also unable to identify what movie the latter driver was watching, he said.

Although Johnson said some law-abiding citizens have taken the province's new laws to heart, too many others are still putting others at risk by using their phones when their attention should be elsewhere. 

He said he hopes drivers continue having conversations with their loved ones about distracted driving.

"There's not one message or one piece of information on that device that's more important than your life or the life of anyone else in your vehicle," he said.