March 8, 2019 10:58 am

OPP to conduct distracted driving campaign this March Break

New, tougher distracted driving penalties came into effect across the province Jan. 1.

Nick Westoll / Global News

The Ontario Provincial police (OPP) say they will crack down on distracted drivers during the school break, March 11-17.

Motorists found driving while distracted could face a fine of up to $1,000, three demerit points and a three-day licence suspension for a first offence under new, tougher penalties that came into effect across the province on Jan. 1.

READ MORE: Tough new penalties now in effect in Ontario for distracted, impaired driving

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For novice drivers in the graduated licencing system, there is no fine or additional demerit points, but longer licence suspensions now apply.

“Not only is it illegal to use your phone or any other hand-held device while driving, stopped in traffic or at a red light, it can be fatal,” said Sylvia Jones, minister of community safety and correctional services. “Distracted driving is still a major cause of collisions and drivers will now face tougher penalties, including automatic driver’s licence suspensions.”

READ MORE: Driver fighting distracted driving ticket claims phone was actually a hash brown, can prove it

According to police, 55 deaths, and 9,115 collisions were linked to an inattentive driver on OPP-patrolled roads in 2018.

Officers say 13,529 distracted driving charges were laid against motorists last year.

READ MORE: Ontario Provincial Police have new ways to deter distracted, impaired driving

“Among the most dangerous drivers are those who continue to ignore the facts and convince themselves that using a cell phone while driving is not dangerous and forms part of today’s driving culture,” interim OPP commissioner, Gary Couture, said.

“Never let a driver use this, or any other justification for using a hand-held device while driving. It is as dangerous a driving behaviour today as it was when Ontario’s distracted driving laws came into force 10 years ago,” he said.

WATCH: Tough new penalties now in effect in Ontario for distracted, impaired driving

More information about distracted driving can be found online.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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