Stiff penalties for distracted driving as study shows 33% guilty - NEWS 95.7
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Stiff penalties for distracted driving as study shows 33% guilty

Last Updated Dec 29, 2016 at 9:07 am ADT

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, a man uses his cell phone as he drives through traffic in Dallas. In a new survey, 98 percent of motorists who own cellphones and text regularly were aware of the dangers, yet three-quarters of them admit to texting while driving, despite laws against it in some states. Two-thirds said they have read text messages while stopped at a red light or stop sign, while more than a quarter said they have sent texts while driving. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Thirty-three per cent of more than 2,000 Canadians who participated in a recent survey, admitted to using red lights as a texting break.

Constable Dianne Penfound with the Halifax Regional Police says using a hand held cellular device while operating a motor vehicle is illegal — even when temporarily stopped at traffic lights.

“Any time you are operating a motor vehicle which includes being stopped at a red light, you are not permitted to use a hand held cellular telephone or to text in any capacity,” she says.

Distractions, including cellphones, steal the focus of drivers when they should be concentrating on the road, other vehicles and pedestrians according to Penfound.

“If you are doing it at a stop light you are probably going to be more likely to look at a response if it comes in while you are driving,” she says. “It is best to just put them away until such time as you are not driving or operating a motor vehicle.”

Penfound says it is not uncommon for her to see drivers using their phones while waiting at lights.

The survey was conducted by the Canadian Automotive Association.

Jeff Walker, the vice president of public affairs at the association, says the survey results are troubling as the effect of the dangerous habit lasts well after the light changes from red to green.

Walker says it has become socially unacceptable to drive drunk and that the same attitude needs to be had towards texting behind the wheel.

The poll also suggests about 70 per cent of Canadians think it’s unacceptable to use a phone at any point in time when behind the wheel.

Texting and driving in Nova Scotia can lead to fines of $237.50 as well as four demerit points.

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