Liberals try again to increase distracted driving fine to $1,000

Penalties for texting behind the wheel could soon skyrocket in Ontario.

Ontario to reintroduce bill to toughen penalties for distracted driving

Rules coming this fall will make penalties the stiffest in Canada 2:40

Penalties for texting behind the wheel could soon skyrocket in Ontario.

The province's transportation minister says he plans to reintroduce a bill this fall that would increase the maximum fine for distracted driving to $1,000 and three demerit points.

The risk of a crash or near-miss among young drivers increased more than sevenfold if they were dialing or reaching for a cellphone and fourfold if they were sending or receiving a text message, according to a new study. (Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press)

The previous bill died when the June 12 election was called, but Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne vowed it would be reintroduced.

Her party won a majority in the election and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca says he expects the bill will pass after he revives it during the fall session.

Earlier this year, the Ontario provincial police said distracted driving was becoming the No. 1 killer on the roads.

Fines for distracted driving in Ontario were raised in March to $280, including surcharges, from $155.

Meanwhile provincial police say 10 unmarked vehicles will be deployed to spot distracted drivers on Ontario's roads, starting this Labour Day long weekend.

They are in addition to the regular patrol vehicles the OPP uses to find motorists who talk on cellphones, text or engage in other forms of distraction while driving.

The OPP says the move is aimed at fully enforcing Ontario's laws against distracted driving.

The force says 35 people have died so far this year in motor vehicle collisions within its jurisdiction in which a driver's lack of attention was a contributing factor.

In 2013, 86 people died in distraction-related collisions.

Police say this category of road fatality surpassed both impaired-related and speed-related deaths investigated by the OPP last year.