Posted by: safedriver | February 26, 2014

Is a higher fine enough?

cell imageRaising kids is always a challenge. We all know that. Our kids have to learn early on in their lives that they are responsible for their own actions. If they continue to do the same actions, they need to face the consequences. Without follow through, they won’t change their behaviour. For those parents who are reading this, I’m sure you would agree with me. If this is the case, why do so many drivers, who may be parents, have so much of a problem with the penalties the government has posed to using a cell phone while driving?

Ontario recently increased their fine for using or holding a handheld device while driving from $155 to $280. There are still 7 other provinces whose fine is below $200. Is that too low to make an impact on the actions of these drivers? Would drivers who violate this law pay the fine and hope they won’t get caught again but still talk and text while driving? In many cases I do believe that. If the law had more consequences tied to it, would more drivers change their actions? Perhaps.  **UPDATE: The government is proposing a higher fine now of up to $1000 plus demerit points. Will that work? Plus another government going higher than that. 

8 of the Canadian provinces and some US states include demerit points to the fine and I think that’s a good idea. Once you receive the demerit points, they stay with you for a couple of years. Once you gather too many demerit points you could have your driver’s licence suspended. Is that worth making that text of call while driving? Is this something that is needed to send the message to these drivers that texting and talking on their cell phone while driving is wrong and dangerous?

Changing behaviour is really required to make this change happen. There may be a few who stop doing it because they are afraid of being caught. But for the most part, many drivers won’t change their behaviour because they don’t see the danger in it. As I’ve said many times to many people; it’s more difficult to argue with yourself than it is with anyone else. They have to want to make the change themselves to stop the behaviour. The increase of fines won’t really change the results. The tough part is there aren’t enough police to reinforce this law within most communities. It’s also tough to pull people over to ticket them when the police notice someone talking or texting while driving. So how can we change the behaviour with our driving population? Education.

I often do an exercise with my students while I’m teaching in the classroom at Young Drivers of Canada. I ask them to do “patty-cake” with either the person beside them or their kneecaps. They follow a pattern and have to do it in unison with everyone else. They all seem to find it quite easy to do. The next part of my experiment is to say the alphabet… backwards. This takes complete thought. It’s not a habit for them to do it that way and they struggle with it. Once they’ve finished that, they have to combine the two exercises and do the “patty-cake” and the alphabet backwards at the same time. I witness my students slowing their “patty-cake” to think of what comes next in the alphabet. Some actually stop doing one of the exercises to focus on the other.

This exercise proves to them that their mind will only allow them to consciously do one thing at a time. They had to slow their thought process to make other choices. Does this sound familiar with driving a vehicle? We often hear how difficult it is for some drivers to talk on their cell phone while driving. It’s absolutely true, but they keep doing it because they don’t believe they are part of the problem, or they don’t believe they’ll get caught.

Why wait until you have to pay the fine? Why wait until you crash your vehicle? Would you close your eyes for three or four seconds while driving? Of course not, but if you think about it, your eyes may be down at your cell phone for three or four seconds instead of looking out the windshield. Wouldn’t that be similar to closing your eyes for the same amount of time?

Make a new habit now and put your phone away while driving. Turn the sound off so you’re now tempted to use it. Put it out of your reach so you’re not tempted to use it. You’re the person who has to make this change, regardless of the amount of the fine.



  1. EXCELLENT article! THANKS for writing it!! Will TRY to Share… STAY SAFE!!!

  2. I don’t think a fine matters as much to drivers as the threat of points on their driving license and the inevitable ban if enough points are collected on the license. A fine is viewed as an inconvenience and at worst an injustice by most drivers.

  3. It’s true, you can increase fines and make all the scare campaigns you want, it really comes down to individuals realizing how much they put themselves and others at risk when you text and drive.

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