By: Luke Jones, Published on February 22, 2018 11:00 AM, Last Update on February 22, 2018 08:02 AM
Property and casualty insurance companies in Canada are the latest to applaud Quebec’s proposed rules for distracted driving. The province wants to makes its Highway Safety Act more robust by drafting stronger punishment for distracted driving. That component is just one of many included in the proposed legislation.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says it is pleased Quebec made distracted driving a focus point of the new act.
“Our members, the P&C insurers, have noted the increase in the number of collisions caused by distracted driving in recent years,” said Pierre Babinsky, IBC’s director of communications and public affairs in Quebec.
Speaking to Canadian Underwriter on Wednesday, Babinsky said insurance company want to see a robust two-prong solution for distracted driving – education and deterrence. “What we were hoping to see, and what we see in the Quebec’s government’s proposal, is a combination of both, which we feel is the best way to see some significant results,” he said.
Babinsky admits education does not work on some drivers, so harsher penalties must be introduced as a deterrent.
“We’re seeing a lot of awareness campaigns directed at drivers, and we’re seeing there is some effect,” he said. “However, awareness doesn’t work on everyone, and so we have to cover not only those people who will be influenced by awareness campaigns, but we have to consider those who need deterrent and penalties to modify their behaviours.”
Quebec has proposed Bill 165, s.433.1 to ban drivers from using any potable electronic device, expecpt under specific circumstances. The exceptions include hands-free communications, or in-car integrated systems. If a driver is holding an electronic device in their hand, the law will deem them as using said device.
“The previous penalties, $80 to $100 for driving and texting, were certainly not something that we considered sufficient deterrent,” Babinsky said. “If we are in the range of $600 and a possible immediate suspension for a certain amount of time, certainly those who are not influenced by awareness campaigns will be after they get their first ticket.”
The new law will punish drivers for texting and driving with a $600 fine, while drivers with the maximum fine could have their license suspended from one week to two months. Police will get more power under the new act, including the ability to issue on the spot license suspensions for up to three days if a driver has been previously convicted for distracted driving.