Montreal

Quebec increasing demerit points for drivers on cell phones

The government is cracking down on people who use hand-held cell phones while driving: docking four demerit points instead of three for an infraction.

In spring 2015, drivers caught using hand-held cell phones will lose four demerit points

The government says ad campaigns warning of the dangers of texting and driving have not worked. (Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec)

The government is cracking down on people who use hand-held cell phones while driving.

Starting in the spring of 2015, drivers caught in the act will soon lose four demerit points instead of three.

The government says ad campaigns warning of the dangers of texting and driving have not worked.

“The reality is that we didn’t reach our objective,” said Quebec's Minister of Transport, Robert Poëti​. “It’s a growing problem. We have a survey that says people realize this themselves, yet they continue to text.”

The cost of a ticket will stay the same for now: at between $115-$145 after court fees.

“Maybe [it should be] something like nine demerit points. For people who don't do it, who are conscious, safe drivers, it doesn't matter. If you increase the demerit points, it actually affects the ones who are chronic texters," said Morty Preizler, who runs a driving school in Montreal.   

The new rules would have the biggest impact on young drivers.

They have only four demerit points to begin with, meaning they would lose their licenses after just one infraction.

Stats across the province

Quebec’s auto insurance board says there was an all-time high last year of 66,114 infractions for using a cellular phone while driving.

Police have been catching more people every year since it was first banned in 2008 when 11,485 tickets were handed out.

So far this year, there have been 50,607 tickets across the province.

Within the province, Montreal leads in the number of infractions with 13,943 in 2014, though the Montérégie is not far behind with 12,445.

The region in Quebec with the lowest number of infractions is the North, with 67 in 2013.

INFOGRAPHIC: Hand-held phone use while driving legislation across Canada 

Source: Canadian Automobile Association / Photo: Shutterstock

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