Ad firm tries to bury distracted driving

A new low in advertising? Never say never, but that Toronto billboard encouraging motorists to drive distracted is in fact a public-safety message. "Text and drive," the stark billboard urges in all grim all-caps. Courtesy of "Wathan Funeral Home." Those seeking to do business with the funeral home will be disappointed. The mortuary doesn't exist. It does have a web site, however. Here's what it says: If you're here, you've probably seen our "Text and Drive" billboard. And if you have, you probably came to this website to tell us what horrible people we are for running an ad like … [Read more...]

British Columbia hikes fines, adds points

British Columbia has more than doubled the fines for distracted drivers, following up on public demands for tougher punishments. The new penalties, which go into effect June 1, will tag first offenders with a base fine of $368. With insurance premium hikes tied to four newly added penalty points, the offense will cost violators $543. (The current fine is $167 with no points.) The total for second offenses within the same year comes to $888, with an automatic license review from motor vehicle officials that could result in probation. Penalty points continue to increase with serial … [Read more...]

Siri a winner in Nova Scotia courts

Canadian provinces continue to struggle with the specifics of their distracted driving laws. In the latest case, in Nova Scotia, the Supreme Court sided with a motorist who was ticketed for using the Siri feature on an iPhone to ask for directions. The high court ruled in late October 2015 that employing the voice-activated navigational system did not constitute "use" of the cell phone, which would be illegal. Justice Jamie Campbell said the related wording in the Nova Scotia's Motor Vehicle Act was so simple as to be unclear and behind the times. He said other provinces were more … [Read more...]

Ontario distracted driving fine near $500

Fines for Ontario drivers who plead guilty to distracted driving now begin at $490, with three demerit points. Technically, the distracted driving fines that can be imposed by a judge range from $300 to $1,000 under a law that took effect Sept. 1. The set $490 fine is for drivers who plead guilty. (It includes victim fine surcharges and court fees.) Those who are convicted also receive the points vs. the driver's license. Most distracted drivers in Ontario will receive that punishment. The update to the Highway Traffic Act -- approved by lawmakers June 2 -- is the work of transportation … [Read more...]

Canadians to distracted drivers: Enough

Manitoba has joined Ontario in stiffening its fines for distracted drivers. Both provinces have punishments that rank among the toughest in North America. The Manitoba government on June 4 unveiled a new 5-demerit penalty vs. the driver's license. The existing $200 fine remains the same. Distracted drivers previously faced a 2-demerit assessment. The new penalty goes into effect July 1. "This is the highest level of demerit points in Canada for the use of a handheld device," said Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh, left. All Canadian provinces use demerits to punish distracted … [Read more...]