280 reasons to put your phone down while driving

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By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Across the province, the fine for talking or texting while driving is going up by more than $100 on Tuesday, March 18.

Before fines for distracted driving nearly double on March 18, Cornwall police constable Matt Dupuis keeps an eye out for drivers using handheld devices during a distracted drivers blitz.

City cops held a distracted drivers blitz on Wednesday to warn motorists about the costly spike from $155 to $280.

Cornwall police constable Matt Dupuis stood at the intersection of Pitt and Eleventh streets to catch drivers playing with their cellphone, MP3 player or any other electronic handheld devices.

In two hours, a dozen tickets were issued.

"Distracted driving is a major issue in the City of Cornwall and it causes a lot of collisions," said Dupuis.

Drivers can still use hands-free devices (Bluetooth), call 911, and there are no demerit points.

The $125 spike is the first increase since October 2009, when the ban on handheld devices came into effect. The new fine includes a victim surcharge fee of $50 and $5 court fee.

"Our goal is to change unsafe driver behaviour and improve safety for everyone," said Cornwall police constable Dan Cloutier. "Fines and penalties act as an effective deterrent, but they are only one tool in the Provincial Traffic Safety Program."

Cloutier, who is also the media relations officer for the Cornwall Community Police Service (CCPS), said sound scientific research and police experience indicates that driving distracted is at least as dangerous as driving impaired.

The Ontario Provincial Police's (OPP) Distracted Driving campaign (March 8 to 14) is also trying to get the attention of drivers before the price of talking or texting while behind the wheel nearly doubles.

Since Saturday, March 10, East Region OPP officers have laid 84 distracted driving charges.

In 2013, distracted driving fatalities surpassed both impaired and speed related fatalities in fatal motor vehicle collisions investigated by the OPP. A total of 78 people died in distracted driving related collisions compared to 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed related deaths last year.

The OPP is asking the public to support their campaign through their social media. Go to the OPP's Facebook and/or Twitter (@OPP_ER) pages and let them know how you plan on helping to eliminate distracted driving on Ontario roads.

Organizations: Ontario Provincial Police, Cornwall Community Police Service, Bluetooth

Geographic location: Cornwall, Pitt, Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Peter E
    March 13, 2014 - 19:01

    This is nothing more then another Tax grab. It is funny to read an article like this coming from the WORST OFFENDERS, POLICE themselves. I have driven on County Rd 2, the 401 and through the city of Cornwall and have seen numerous Police officers with a cell phone glued to their ears while driving police vehicles. these same vehicles that are equipped with computers that take the attention of the officer away from the road and yet the public gets targeted. I have even pulled up beside one of these officers in the past to over hear a personal conversation he was having on his cell phone. Maybe if they want to up the fine to the public, it should be tripled for the officers that should know better. This is just my opinion as I have always found it a good practice (even before the new law) to pull over to use my own cell phone. Although apparently that can come with a price as well. I have been harassed by Police because I have pulled into an empty parking lot or even a park to use it. Guess in this area, you just can't win either way.

  • Kat
    March 12, 2014 - 18:44

    do you know how many police are spotted in this city talking on cell phones while driving around?? it's about time to practice what they are preaching