Ontario drivers could be hit with three demerit points and fines of up to $1,000 for distracted driving under new legislation unveiled Monday by the governing Liberals.

Transportation Minister Glen Murray tabled the bill, called the Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act, in the provincial legislature Monday afternoon.

The legislation includes a number of measures designed to make roadways safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, Murray said. The measures include new, higher minimum fines for drivers who use cellphones while behind the wheel.

The current fines for distracted driving range from $60 to $500. Those fines will increase to a range of between $300 and $1,000 if the legislation is adopted. Drivers convicted of distracted driving will also receive three demerit points.

Drivers who have demerit points on their record could face higher insurance premiums.

By 2016, distracted driving-related deaths are projected to exceed deaths from drinking and driving, the provincial government says, while pedestrians currently account for one-in-six car-related fatalities in the province.

“These changes and a number of others…all recognize that everyone needs to feel safe and protected on Ontario’s roads and highways,” Murray said in the legislature.

Penalties for “dooring” cyclists, or opening a car door and hitting a cyclist, will also go up under the bill, also to a range of between $300 and $1,000. The demerit point penalty will be raised from two to three.

Other measures include:

  • Mandating that repeated drunk drivers complete intensive alcohol treatment, monitoring and education programs.
  • Requiring drivers to yield the entire roadway to pedestrians at school crossings and crosswalks.
  • Mandating that drivers keep a one-metre distance when passing a cyclist.
  • Requiring drivers to slow down and move over for tow trucks, as they do for emergency vehicles, that are responding to an accident and have their amber lights flashing.

The legislation would also allow bicycle lanes to run in the opposite direction to traffic on one-way streets, and allow cyclists to use paved shoulders of divided highways.

Murray said the legislation is the result of widespread consultations with various stakeholders, including the Canadian Automobile Association, the trucking association and cyclist groups, and includes parts of four private member’s bills.

Motorists may use a cellphone when calling 911 or if they remain in their car but pull off to the side of the road.