When driving in Ontario, you have the legal obligation to focus on what you’re doing. Failing to do so increases your chances of causing or being involved in an accident. This is why Ontario has driving laws in place to penalize individuals who are distracted while driving.
It’s vital for Ontario drivers to know what they can and cannot do behind the wheel in order to improve safety.
Important Things to Know About Distracted Driving in Ontario
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) states that distracted driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Here is a list of important things to know about distracted driving in Ontario, as compiled by leading auto accident lawyers in Mississauga.
What is distracted driving?
According to the RCMP, distracted driving can be a result of more than simply using your phone while driving. Hence, any instance where you are unfocussed that affects your judgement and prevents you from driving safely can be considered distracted driving. Certain instances that qualify as distracted driving are:
- Texting, talking, or browsing the web on your smartphone
- Reading a book or map
- Programming a GPS
- Drinking and eating
- Watching videos
- Vaping and smoking
- Listening to loud music
- Talking to passengers
- Adjusting the radio
- Grooming (applying makeup, brushing teeth, shaving, etcetera)
While distracted driving is against the law across Canada, each province has its own set of rules.
What are Ontario’s laws on distracted driving?
It’s against the law to use any handheld electronic or communication device for entertainment or any other task while driving. These include phones, tablets, iPads, iPods, e-readers and Apple watches. Even keeping these devices in your hands is against the law.
Since September 1, 2015, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has brought fines for distracted driving up to $490. This includes court fees and the victim surcharge fine. Additionally, drivers who receive a contest/summons in court on their ticket may be liable to pay as much as $1,000. And if convicted for distracted driving, the driver will also receive three demerit points.
What are the new changes to distracted driving penalties (starting January 1, 2019)?
For novice drivers:
- First-time offenders will have their license suspended for 30 days and be fined up to $1,000.
- Second-time offenders within five years may face license suspension for up to 90 days and may be fined up to $2,000.
- Third-time and subsequent offenders within five years may have their license cancelled and removed from the Graduated Licensing system, with a fine up to $3,000.
For fully-licensed drivers:
- First-time offenders will have their license suspended for three days, be fined up to $1,000, and get three demerit points.
- Second-time offenders within five years will have their license suspended for seven days and be fined up to $2,000 while attaining six demerit points.
- Third-time and subsequent offenders facing conviction within five years will have their license suspended for 30 days, fined up to $3,000, and attain six demerit points.
How to report distracted driving
If you are driving and notice a car being driven hazardously:
- Switch on your hazards and pull away from traffic in a safe manner.
- Call local authorities.
- Try to offer police as many details as you can, including the street where you saw the vehicle, the direction in which it was going, and the make and model of the car. If you can, take note of the license plate number.
What are the different types of distracted driving?
There are three main categories of distracted driving:
- Manual Distractions – This category is applicable to drivers who take their hands off the wheel while driving, whether it’s to hold their phone, eat, or groom themselves.
- Visual Distractions – These are when a driver takes their eyes off the road for anything, such as to look out the window, keep track of their GPS, or search for anything in the car.
- Cognitive Distractions – This applies to drivers who obviously aren’t concentrating on driving. It can include talking to passengers or daydreaming.
What is the best thing to do if you’ve been in a car accident?
If you are in an auto accident, whether you’re the driver, pedestrian, passenger, or a cyclist, seek medical attention right away. If possible, get the names of witnesses and anyone else involved. Make note of how the accident happened to help the authorities, insurance companies, and your lawyer.
On that note, get in touch with an experienced auto accident lawyer. Whether you’re the victim or offender, they’ll inform you of your rights. They’ll also explain any compensation or benefits you’re entitled to, whether in terms of accident benefits claims or a third-party claim.
You’re the one who chooses what they do behind the wheel. So, make the choice to avoid using technological devices when driving or doing other tasks that could lead to an accident. Focus on the road to ensure you, your passengers, and those outside remain safe. We hope this blog has given you a fair idea about the dangers of distracted driving and helps you and others stay safe on the road.