Charges for using a cellphone while driving in the Halifax County area policed by the RCMP tripled in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same time last year.
There were 81 charges laid between Jan. 1 and March 31, compared to 27 last year.
Cpl. Lisa Croteau said that looking at or using a phone while on the road can distract a driver enough that it leads to a collision, no matter how confident the person is in their abilities.
Croteau said it’s hard to say why the numbers have gone up, but that targeted enforcement looking specifically for cellphones has increased.
“And there are still people using them. That’s a part of it.”
Targeted enforcement can involve officers in plainclothes at an intersection watching for violations and passing the vehicle description on to other officers down the street, who stop the driver and issue the ticket.
Croteau said it’s disappointing that the numbers are going up.
“It definitely is concerning,” she said. “All the distracted drivers that are out there are causing a safety risk for themselves and everyone around them.”
She didn’t have numbers on how many of the tickets were from targeted enforcement, officers on patrol or as a result of motor vehicle crash investigations.
The fine for using a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle in Nova Scotia is $237.50. If someone is convicted, four points are added to their driver’s licence.
To be charged, a driver only has to be touching or holding a phone. It doesn’t matter whether or not it is being used.
She said anyone who sees a motorist on their cellphone or who is otherwise distracted and is creating an immediate threat to public safety should call 911 when its safe to do so.