Quebec's transport minister tabled a strict new road safety bill Friday that significantly increases fines for anyone caught using a cellphone behind the wheel and also tightens rules for new drivers.
Bill 165 represents the first major overhaul of the province's driving rules since 1986.
Under the bill, drivers caught using a cellphone — or other electronic devices — will face fines between $300 and $600, up from the current $80 to $100, and will see their licences automatically suspended for three days for a first offence.
Licence suspensions increase to seven days and 30 days for second and third violations, respectively.
Drivers with GPS devices or other digital screens can continue using them if they are recessed inside the vehicle.
The bill also prohibits anyone with a beginner's permit from driving between midnight and 5 a.m.
Transport Minister Andre Fortin said young people are overrepresented in fatal car crashes in the province, adding a young person is involved in one crash out of every three that occur at night.
Drivers 19 years or younger, in the first six months from the time they are issued a temporary permit, will be prohibited from transporting more than one passenger 19 years or younger.
During the following six months, drivers 19 or under will only be permitted to transport up to three other people aged 19 years or younger.
The bill also requires drivers to install winter tires by Dec 1, as opposed to the current deadline of mid-November.
Marco Harrison, director of the CAA-Quebec Foundation, said the bill "is a giant step in the right direction.
"The minister is attacking the two issues that most needed addressing in terms of road safety: the overrepresentation of young people (in crashes) and distracted driving," he said.
The Canadian Press