Province considers hiking cellphone fines

Transportation Minister Robert Vessey looking at boosting maximum to $1,200

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on September 3, 2014
Texting while driving
MCC photo

It could get more expensive for people who talk on a phone or text while driving as the provincial government considers increasing the fines for doing so.

The current fines for using a cellphone while driving range from $325 to $475, including a surcharge, but Transportation Minister Robert Vessey says he is looking at the possibility of changing the maximum to around $1,200.

“This is as dangerous as impaired driving,” he said.

In 2012, there were 258 people charged with using a cellphone while driving, while that number dropped to 215 charges in 2013.

The provincial government has taken steps in recent years to crack down on drunk drivers and Vessey viewed increasing fines for using a cellphone while driving as another step in making Island roads safer.

Vessey said the potential new fines are high but it’s a very serious offence and could help keep someone from using their phone while driving.

“You do the crime, you pay the fine.”

Changes to the Highway Traffic Act are needed to increase the fines and the earliest that could happen would be this fall when the legislature resumes.

Vessey said he has been having discussions about whether or not the increase will be as drastic as tripling the fines and it’s an issue the government has been looking at for a while.

“People continue to do it and the message isn’t getting through and fines are another tool we have in our toolbox.”

Vessey said the government is trying to get the message out that it’s unacceptable to use a cellphone while driving.

“There’s no phone call or text that’s worth a life.”

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

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