Quebec proposes heftier fines for distracted driving, booster seats til age 9

Drivers and cyclists, get ready: there may be new and tougher provisions in proposed revisions to Quebec's Highway Safety Code.

Bill also suggests moving up winter tire deadline, imposing late-night curfew for new drivers

The Quebec government wants to hike the fines for repeat offenders of texting and driving. (David Horemans/CBC)

Drivers and cyclists, get ready: there may be new and tougher provisions in proposed revisions to Quebec's Highway Safety Code.

The bill, which aims to crack down on dangerous driving, was tabled on the last day of the fall session at the National Assembly Friday.

Here are some highlights from the 86 proposed measures.

Curfew for new drivers

For motorists with a learner's permit, there would be a new late-night curfew which would bar them from driving, from midnight to 5 a.m.

This would apply to drivers of both motorcycles and regular vehicles.

New deadline for winter tires

Since 2008, Quebec vehicle owners have been obligated to have winter tires on their cars from Dec. 15 to March 15.

Motorists may have to start the scramble to install their winter tires a little earlier, because the deadline would be moved up by two weeks.

Under the new Highway Safety Code, winter tires would be mandatory as of Dec. 1.

"Quebec is a large province and has a very different climate from one place to the other, so Dec. 15 is a bit late in the season for a lot of places," said Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin.

Snow tires would have to be on earlier under the new measures proposed by the provincial government. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Distracted driving

Fines would go up for drivers who are caught distracted behind the wheel.

For repeat offenders, fines would start at $300 and cap at $600. That's a sharp increase from the current penalty, which ranges from $80 to $100.

While the measure targets texting and driving, it would also apply to drivers distracted by electronic devices and screens.

Longer time in car seats

The government is also proposing keeping children in booster seats in cars until they're older — or taller.

If the bill is passed, children would have to be strapped in car seats until the age of nine or until they are at least 1.45 metres in height, or 4–9".

"It's a measure that's in accordance with what exists in other Canadian provinces," said Fortin.

The SAAQ says 60 per cent of children's car seats are not properly installed. (Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock)

Harsher penalty for drunk drivers

As part of the proposed reforms, the province wants repeat offenders found to have been driving under the influence to face stiffer consequences.

The vehicles of repeat offenders would have to be equipped with a permanent alcohol ignition interlock device. In exceptional cases, the condition could be lifted after 10 years, but only if several terms are met.

"Anyone who drives under the influence twice honestly doesn't have a place on Quebec roads unless we all know that that person is sober," said Fortin.

Heftier fines for cyclists

The bill also contains proposed measures affecting cyclists.

Cyclists would no longer have to signal they're slowing down and, in municipalities that allow it, they would be permitted to bike on the sidewalk.

Just as drivers must, cyclists would also have to stop when they encounter a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing.

The province also wants to impose increased fines for cyclists who commit infractions. (Charles Contant/CBC)

When it comes to texting or handling a phone while on a bike, cyclists would be subjected to the same fines as drivers.

Fines for infractions would also be five times higher, ranging from $80 to $100. This is a sharp increase from the current fines of $15 to $30.

Under the new rules, however, cyclists who commit infractions would not be subject to demerit points on their motor vehicle permit.

With files from Radio-Canada