Recently the fine for texting and driving in Alberta has increased. The fine has gone from $172 to $287 and, as of January 1, 2016, three demerit points have also been added. Other provinces have led the way in the fight against texting and driving. For instance, in Ontario the fine can range between $300-$1000 and includes four demerits. Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland all have four demerit points while Prince Edward Island leads the way with as much as a $1200 fine and five demerits. Manitoba has five demerits but only a $200 fine.
The dangers of distracted driving are not insignificant. Reports from Ontario and B.C. suggest more people are being injured and killed as a result of distract driving than impaired driving. If this is in fact the case, it seems that the punishment for distracted driving should be at least comparable to the punishment for distracted driving. Remember, a person who is impaired could be driving perfectly, obeying the rules of road and just happen to drive into a Checkstop and end up losing his or her license, and rightly so. We know from experience that alcohol impairs judgement and a person should not be driving while is that state. If they make it home safely it is likely the result of luck more than good management.
Here is the issue, if the impaired driver loses his license without transgressing the rules of the road, shouldn’t someone doing something equally as dangerous receive a comparable punishment? If distraction is causing more deaths than impaired drivers shouldn’t they be punished severely as well?
In Alberta a person who doesn’t stop for a school bus while the lights are flashing red will receive six demerits. In the last 10-15 years I think I could count on one hand the number of incidents where a child was injured or killed by a person who didn’t stop while the red lights were flashing. So, for a traffic violation that rarely results in injury or death a person receives six demerits whereas the demerits for an action that far more often results in injury or death a person receives only three.
For decades families who lost loved ones to impaired drivers have cried out for tougher penalties. Sadly we may have to wait until more people are killed before we take the issue of distracted driving seriously.