Yellowknife, NWT – N.W.T drivers should think twice before pulling out their cell phones behind the wheel.

The Department of Transportation says it has almost tripled the fine for distracted driving.

The D.O.T’s Director of Road Licensing and Safety Steve Loutitt explains.

“The department has recently increased the fines for distracted driving from $115 to $322 in an effort to mitigate the amount of people that are using electronic devices while operating a vehicle.”

Since January 2012, distracted driving provisions in the Motor Vehicles Act have made it illegal to drive while using hand-held electronic devices like cell phones, laptops and GPS devices among other things.

Loutitt says accident rates double when drivers take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds and that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash than attentive ones.

The substantial increase in fines supports the 17th Assembly priority of contributing to safe communities in the Northwest Territories by reducing vehicle accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

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