With March break here, the O.P.P. are heading out to watch for distracted drivers on cottage country roads.

Ontario’s police force is warning that drivers caught with phones can face heftier fines than last year.

The O.P.P. says that since going into effect January 1st, the new distracted driving penalty includes a fine up to $1,000, three demerit points and a three-day suspension.

Police are extending this warning paired with the stat that 55 deaths and 9,115 collisions were caused by inattentive drivers last year.

O.P.P. officials say that last year the force has laid 13,529 charges related to distracted driving.

“Among the most dangerous drivers are those who continue to ignore the facts and convince themselves that using a cell phone while driving is not dangerous and forms part of today’s driving culture. Never let a driver use this, or any other justification for using a hand-held device while driving. It is as dangerous a driving behaviour today as it was when Ontario’s Distracted Driving laws came into force ten years ago” Said Interim Commissioner Gary Couture.