Fine hike not enough to deter distracted drivers


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In today’s world we have the need to be in constant communication and unfortunately that extends to when we are behind the wheel. The government has approved a raise in the maximum fine for drivers caught using a cell phone or other prohibited device. An increase in the maximum fine is admirable and a good start, but not enough to deter distracted drivers.

The number of distracted driving charges has increased by several thousand, from 16.000 in 2012 to 19,000 in 2013. Clearly, the fine structure in place, even with the upcoming changes in legislation, is not keeping drivers off their phones and other devices. The number of fatalities associated with distracted driving was greater than alcohol and speed related fatalities in the aforementioned years.

The government should take the next step in their deterrence strategy and introduce a punishment structure based on a combination of fines and demerit points, which could be arranged to target repeat offenders. If distracted drivers are caught once, there should certainly be no confusion as to the law and thus a more serious consequence upon a second offense is reasonable.

How important is the message you are sending? Or the car selfie you are posting to Facebook? It can wait and certainly is not worth a life. Hopefully it is not worth a hefty fine either, but the system appears to be failing thus far. Driving can be boring and traffic can make you look for any sort of escape, even if just for a few seconds. Humanity survived traffic and long drives without phones for many years. We should stop coming up with new ways to make the roads more dangerous and instead focus on eliminating distraction from the driver’s seat.

Yes, the government likes any reason to collect money, but if we are going to take issue over government revenue, this is not the collection method to take issue with. Saving lives makes sense and should face no opposition. If we are reckless and careless to the point of endangering our own lives and the lives of others, we cannot react with frustration if the government steps in with legislation.

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