September 28, 2016 7:00 am

Distracted driving in Canada: Here’s how you would fix it

We asked our viewers for their thoughts about this dangerous activity and what can be done to stop it. The one common thread among those who responded is that the penalties for distracted driving are not tough enough.

Amr Nabil/AP Photo

Canada’s federal and provincial transport ministers meet in Toronto Wednesday to discuss how to deal with the growing problem of distracted driving in the country.

In some parts of Canada, distracted drivers are killing more people than drunk drivers, yet the penalties for impaired driving are much harsher.

READ MORE: Think it’s easy to text and drive? Think again

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said earlier this month it’s a “big problem” and promised to raise the issue with his provincial counterparts, including the question of whether to criminalize texting and driving.

WATCH: Transport Minister Marc Garneau will discuss criminalizing distracted driving

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But if the transport ministers are looking for ways to crack down on distracted driving, Global News viewers have lots of suggestions.

As part of our continuing coverage of this issue, we asked our viewers for their thoughts about this dangerous activity and what can be done to stop it. Here is a sampling of what our viewers told us.

The one common thread among those who responded is that the penalties for distracted driving are not tough enough.

S. Wylie wrote: “The ONLY thing that will turn around the number of deaths and injuries is a major penalty. Otherwise, people just laugh at it”.

Maranatha Heigh pointed to Alaska as an example of tough laws for distracted driving:

  • Text and drive only — up to $10,000 and one year in prison
  • Injure someone — up to $50,000 and five years in prison
  • Seriously injure someone — up to $100,000 and 10 years in prison
  • Kill someone — up to $250,000 and 20 years in prison

Peter Zinchuk wrote: “Why not treat it as stunt driving? If you get caught using your cell phone improperly you get your car impounded for seven days.”

Tom Byrne: “As money does not appear to be a deterrent, take their license for 30 days. The inconvenience is horrendous. Make the penalty hurt!”

James Crowe: “Have their vehicles impounded for a week. Besides the fine of $300 to $400, they would also have a towing charge and a storage charge which would add another $150 to their fine, but they would also be on foot, walking for the week.”

READ MORE: Quebec’s Couillard calls on Ottawa to criminalize distracted driving

Ken Joad: “If a small fine and demerit points are not effective and imposing a criminal offense is not realistic, then hit them where it counts. CONFISCATE THEIR PHONES. If the police can do it with open liquor and pot, then let them take away the devices! Surely this would be an easy law to enact and a simple solution to a growing problem.”

Peter Fuller: “I think the police should begin taking offender’s phones away. If you are charged with impaired driving, your car is impounded. Many people have their lives in their cellphones – if they run the risk of having their precious phones take away by police if they are caught using them while on the road, then perhaps they’ll reconsider using them while driving”

WATCH: Distracted driving Message not getting through to drivers

But not everyone is convinced tougher laws on their own will solve this problem. Instead, they are looking to technology to shut down distracted drivers.

Wesley Allen Shaw: “All vehicles should be installed with cell phone jammers. They can be modified to short distances, say within three metres.”

READ MORE: Insurance industry advocates for tougher distracted driving laws

Valda Simmons: “It’s time the cell phone makers stepped up to the plate and develop a chip that will disengage your phone while the car is in motion. With all this new technology it cannot be that difficult to design such a chip.”

Barbara Thompson says we should also recruit the insurance industry to get people’s eyes off their cellphone screen and back onto the road.

“Ought to be an insurance question asked by all companies. That you will not text or use cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. If you cause an accident while doing so, and it’s proven you were distracted by cell phone usage, you’re on your own. No insurance coverage for you and GOOD LUCK getting insured thereafter.”

Do you have a story about distracted driving to share? Contact Global News with the form below.

Note: We may use your response in this or other stories. While we may contact you to follow up we won’t publish your contact info.

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