Ottawa focuses on distracted driving

distracted driving

MONTREAL – Transport Minister Marc Garneau is proposing the creation of a tough national standard to penalize distracted drivers using their cellphones on the road.

Garneau said Wednesday that having consistent national rules with stiffer fines and demerit points could address the growing number of incidents.

While dangerous driving is covered under the Criminal Code, cases involving distraction are provincial responsibility that result in fines and demerit points that vary widely across provinces.

“I would like it to be treated very, very seriously because to put it in simple terms, I consider that driving requires 100 per cent of your attention,” he told reporters before heading to Washington for a meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The minister last week sent a letter to his provincial counterparts calling for tougher penalties for texting and talking on cellphones while driving.

While Garneau has yet to get a response from provinces, he says governments need to act more quickly to this growing issue than it did in the past to combat drunk driving.

He declined to say if he would like to see cars taken away from drivers found guilty of distracted driving, but said stricter penalties are required.

“I personally feel it should be at the higher end rather than at the lower end.”