Distracted Driving in Ontario

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Distracted driving has become an increasing threat in Ontario, with collisions caused by distracted drivers increasing and fatalities from these incidents more than doubling since 2000. If caught using certain items while driving (such as text messaging), fines may apply. The Amazing fact about distracted driving ontario.

Drivers in Ontario who engage in any form of distracted driving could receive demerit points or face license suspension in addition to fines. What constitutes a distraction while driving in Ontario?

Texting

Texting and driving are extremely risky and illegal, and they are incredibly costly. Studies have demonstrated that those engaging in texting while driving are 23 times more likely to crash – this includes both adults and teens; 11 teens die every single day due to distracted driving in Canada alone!

Under Ontario law, using any handheld communication or entertainment device while driving—including voice-to-text apps—is illegal; however, viewing GPS display screens while the vehicle is off the roadway and lawfully parked is allowed.

Other forms of distracted driving include eating and drinking while driving, reaching for objects, fiddling with stereo or navigation systems, and other activities that divert a driver’s physical, visual, and cognitive attention from driving safely. Such distractions may even result in serious injuries or fatalities. Convictions could incur substantial penalties that remain on your record and increase insurance premiums; the best way to avoid such penalties is simply putting down the phone and driving safely.

Eating

Momentary loss of attention could cost you fines, demerit points, and license suspension. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of collisions and deaths; collisions involving distracted drivers have doubled over the last two decades alone! Glancing at your cell phone even momentarily could prove fatal in an accident situation.

Handheld communication or entertainment devices, including cell phones, tablets, portable gaming consoles, and video monitors, are illegal to use while driving in Ontario. However, emergencies allow calling 911, and GPS display screens may still be operated as long as they are not touched directly.

Eating while driving may seem harmless enough, but being found guilty will result in a $615 fine and three demerit points on your record—as well as increased auto insurance premiums, as distracted driving is an integral factor when calculating risk profiles. Furthermore, court fees and victim surcharges could apply if you fight your ticket in court.

Drinking

As even seconds of distracted driving can result in severe or even fatal car accidents, Ontario has established strict laws and penalties to discourage such behavior.

Ontario driving laws restrict the use of handheld communication and entertainment devices and certain display screens while on the road, but hands-free wireless communications devices with an earpiece or lapel button and GPS display screens integrated into vehicles are allowed.

Even one drink can significantly diminish your ability to drive safely, so if you have been imbibing, it is wise to refrain from any activities that require your focus to shift away from driving and onto something other than the road.

Distracted driving has now overtaken impaired driving as the number one killer on our roads, and being aware of its dangers and taking precautionary steps to plan can help save countless lives on Canadian highways. Public transit may also provide safe options. Otherwise, staying put until it feels safe to drive is also an option, or asking a friend for a lift home may suffice.

Reaching for objects

Ontario law defines distracted driving as any activity that takes your eyes, hands, or minds off driving – this includes handheld communication/entertainment devices (phones, iPods, and e-readers), touching or reaching for objects while driving, and viewing display screens unrelated to driving (except GPS ). Furthermore, using hands-free wireless communications devices with an earpiece or lapel button, as well as manually entering information into GPS or navigation systems, are illegal acts and should never occur while behind the wheel.

While distracted driving is dangerous, many drivers still engage in distracting behavior behind the wheel, according to a RatesDotCA survey. Text messaging was seen as the main distraction; however, 24% admitted to engaging in non-electronic distractions like checking messages or conversing with passengers while driving.

An initial conviction for distracted driving in Ontario can result in a refined, three-day license suspension and demerit points, which adversely impact insurance rates. A second offense could cost $3,000 and lead to an extended one-month license suspension period.

Changing the radio station

At first glance, it may seem intuitive that any activity that diverts your focus away from driving could be potentially hazardous, yet many drivers remain uncertain about what constitutes distracted driving. Activities such as changing radio stations, eating or drinking while driving, engaging in conversations while driving, and smoking all qualify as potential sources of distraction – even altering temperature settings in your car could be eligible.

Last week, Allan Boyd, VE3AJB of Ontario North/East, and Phil McBride of Ontario South met with Ontario Ministry of Transportation officials to discuss distracted driving regulations and the five-year exemption for two-way radios that expires January 1, 2018. RAC will continue providing updates regarding Distracted Driving Regulations as they develop.

Remind all drivers that distracted driving is punishable with harsh penalties. Even first-time convictions potentially face fines of $490, three demerit points, and a three-day Ontario Driver’s License suspension—significantly more stringent penalties than existed a decade ago. Therefore, all must strive to limit distractions while operating their vehicles.

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