Montreal blitz targets belts, phone use

by Steve Bouchard

MONTREAL, Que. – Drivers of heavy vehicles around Montreal were under the watchful eyes of enforcement teams who were riding an unmarked coach on Tuesday, during a blitz run by Controle Routier Quebec with the support of provincial police.

The higher vantage point gave the teams a clear look at whether drivers were using cell phones behind the wheel or not wearing seatbelts. Both offences will see steeper penalties in coming weeks.

“Most people now use their cell phone on their thighs,” said Marie-Josée Michaud, public relations officer for Contrôle Routier Québec. In a patrol car, that can be difficult to see, but there’s no problem from the higher position in a bus.

Inspectors found four truck drivers using a cellphone while driving, and 15 not wearing seatbelts. Surete du Quebec officers found 14 car drivers using cellphones behind the wheel, and three not wearing seatbelts.

The latest offences aligned with provincial statistics that find that truck drivers are more likely not to use a seatbelt than use a cell phone while driving. The reverse is true for the drivers of light vehicles.

Those who don’t wear a seatbelt currently receive an $80 ticket plus fees, and three demerit points. But as of May 18, the fines increase to between $200 and $300.

The existing $80 fines and fees plus four demerit points for using a cell phone while driving increase on June 30 – to fines of $300 to $600, costs, and five demerit points on a first offence. Repeat offenders will see fines doubled, and licences immediately suspended for three, seven, or 30 days, depending on whether the offence has been repeated one, two, or three times in two years.

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