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More West Island motorists ticketed for texting and driving

Although Quebec banned motorists from using hand-held cellphones in April 2008, Montreal police on the West Island are issuing more tickets than ever for talking or texting behind the wheel.

The threat of a $115-fine and three demerit points has failed to persuade many drivers to put down their phones and focus their full attention on the road, at least, it appears in the suburbs.

“It’s a real illness,” said Montreal police Constable François Lachapelle, a West Island officer responsible for traffic and road safety working out of Station 5 in Pointe Claire.

On Monday, Lachapelle issued a reminder to motorists that it is illegal to use a hand-held cellphone, even if only to glance at the screen while idling at a traffic light.

He said the numbers of tickets issued by officers at Station 5 keeps rising and, is now in danger of hitting 600 this year — a 75 per cent increase since 2009 the first full year after Quebec’s Highway Traffic Code was amended.

“Some people just can’t put their phones down,” said Lachapelle. “The threat of a fine and demerit points has not changed their behaviour.”

The bent neck of a motorists at a traffic light is a tell tale sign, he said. “The light turns green and everyone goes but them,” he added. “We catch them.”

In 2009, Lachapelle said, officers at Station 5 issued 348 tickets. In 2010, that number rose to 462 tickets and, by 2011, it hit 537 tickets.

Last year, he said, the number of tickets issued dipped slightly — a total of 482 — but that decrease was likely related to the student strikes downtown that required backup from police in the West Island.

This year, he said, more than 100 tickets have already been issued for illegal cellphone use and, at that rate, the total number of tickets could top 600 by the end of the year.

Although the numbers only represent the area covered by Station 5, Pointe Claire and Dorval, the numbers still paint an accurate picture of what is happening in the suburbs and, it has to change, said Lachapelle.

While people are less likely to hold a phone up to their ear, he said, texting has become the driving habit now threatening road safety.

A Quebec study suggests that motorists who use a cellphone while at the wheel are at a 38 per cent higher risk of being involved in an accident, a finding replicated in several other studies.

ccornacchia@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: cornacchiaGAZ

3 comments

  1. The morning my mom passed away a year ago, someone was not paying attention for these reasons and hit the back of my husband’s car while stopped at light with my 10 year old son in the back seat on the way to the hospital after just getting the news of my mom passing.

    It disgust me how people are so careless and thoughtless to put other people at risk by texting and talking while driving. There should be a 1-800 to report this and to make a difference there should be a ZERO tolerance policy!!! I can’t tell you how many times someone has gone through a stop sign or swerves into my lane because they are texting or talking on a cell phone. It is just plain SELFISH AND STUPID!!!

  2. By S. Jenkins

    The punishment is not enough to stop these morons. Seize their car and the phone and the problem will be much smaller and the roads much safer.

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