These days, it seems very foreign to see someone talking on a cell phone while driving. Since 2009, Ontario drivers have been banned from using hand-held devices that create distracted driving behind the wheel.
Since then, the use of cell phones and other personal electronics has risen and driver distraction has increased with the introduction of smart watches, GPS systems and on-board information screens.
Sadly, in Ontario, deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since 2000 with distracted driving being the number one cause of road deaths in Ontario.
Currently, if a driver is caught using a hand-held device, they can expect a $490 fine and three demerit points.
On January 1, 2019, new laws will take effect in Ontario with escalating sanctions, increased fines and license suspension. At the same time, the list of activities that count as distracted driving has also expanded.
Effective January 1, a distracted driver will receive a summons with a court date where fines for a first offence can be high as $1,000.
- First offence: 3 days suspension and $1,000 fine
- Second offence: 7 days suspension and $2,000 fine
- Three or more offences: 30 days suspension, $3,000 fine and six demerit points
New Distracted Driving laws
Under the new law, anything that causes a driver to be less focused on the road constitutes distracted driving, this includes:
- Simply holding an electronic device in your hands (hand-held communication during driving is against the law)
- Using a cellular phone to talk, text, check maps or switch playlists
- Eating (there may not be a licence suspension, but the RCMP warn you could be fined or given six demerits depending on the food)
- Reading books or documents
- Typing a destination into the GPS
As we head into the new year, we can all resolve to end distracted driving and to keep our roadways safe for all. Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. If you need to, put the phone in the glove compartment or in a bag on the back seat. Consider using an app that blocks incoming calls and text while you are driving. If you must respond, or have to make a call or send a text, carefully pull over to a safe area.
If you, or a loved one, has been involved in an accident or injured due to distracted driving call us today. We understand, we care and we are here to help.