Ontario set to jack up distracted driving fines to $1,000 plus points

(Fotolia.com)

(Fotolia.com)

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 6:36 AM ET

TORONTO -- Motorists convicted of driving while chatting or texting on a handheld devices face three demerit points and fines of up to $1,000 under Ontario legislation introduced Monday.

The province is already increasing the $155 distracted driving fine to $280 as of Tuesday.

The legislation, if passed, would increase the minimum penalty to a minimum of $300 and as much as $1,000.

The Keeping Ontario's Roads Safe Act would also require drivers passing cyclists to keep a distance of at least one metre.

The wide-ranging bill would make it illegal for a driver to enter a regular pedestrian or school crosswalk until it is completely clear, and mandate that motorists slow down and move over for a stopped tow truck with flashing amber lights.

The CAA, cycling advocates and leaders in the trucking industry gave the bill the thumbs up.

Transportation Minister Glen Murray said he's certain motorists will also support the legislation.

"It's very clear to me that this works," Murray said. "It will actually increase mobility, it will reduce the pressure on automobiles, it will make it easier, create much better traffic flows."

The proposed legislation absorbs many other bills put forward by government and opposition members, and Murray is optimistic it will be passed by the Ontario legislature this spring.


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