Distracted Driving in Ontario
We have all been guilty of driving distracted at one point in our lives. However, almost everyone can say that they take every precaution possible to ensure that we aren’t distracted while driving on the Ontario roadways.
To take this a step further, there are laws in place meant to help keep drivers from becoming distracted and a danger while on the road.
What can you do while driving? What should you avoid doing while driving? What are the penalties if you are pulled over and are violating the distracted driving laws?
These are all great questions and something that every Ontario driver should be wondering!
What is the Distracted Driving Law?
The Distracted Driving laws in place are meant to help keep everyone safe who is on the road. The idea is that this discourages people from doing things behind the wheel that are considered distracting.
For example, using your cell phone to talk, text, choose a playlist, look at a map and more. These are considered distracting activities that can cause an accident.
Other activities like reading a book, changing the station and putting coordinates into your GPS are also in the category of distracted driving.
An important note to make is that these laws are in effect even if you are stopped at a stop light and are on your phone or reading something. As long as you are behind the wheel, no distractions can be present.
The Penalties for Distracted Driving
There are several penalties that are in effect for those drivers who are caught driving distracted. In fact, the penalties are set to change and become more severe in January of 2019.
Ontario wants to ensure that drivers are being safe on the road, so they do take distracted driving very seriously.
The penalty that you get now is going to depend on the type of license that you hold.
For those who have an A to G license, they could see bigger penalties. These could include:
- A fine of $490 up to $1,000
- Three demerit points on their license
For novice drivers who hold a G1, G2, Mi or M2 license:
- The first conviction results in a 30-day license suspension
- The second conviction results in a 90-day license suspension
- The third conviction results in cancelling your license
The new penalties that are being introduced could mean drivers receive up to six demerit points on their license, fines that are up to $2000 and even jail time if caught, according to The Globe and Mail.
Why the Tough Stance on Distracted Driving?
The number of fatalities that happened between 2009 to 2016, nearly doubled, even though distracted driving laws were already in place.
Most police officers agree that those who drive distracted are just as bad as those who are driving under the influence of alcohol, as their reaction time is slower.
Hence, the reason that Ontario is taking such a strong stance against this type of driving.
Myths and Facts about Distracted Driving
While distracted driving is not a relatively new topic, there are still people who think the myths they hear about it are true.
For your peace of mind, be sure that you know what the real rules are.
- Drivers can’t use earpieces, headsets or a Bluetooth device while driving.
This is actually false! The distracting driving covers devices that you would be touching. If you have a hand-held device that can be controlled through voice activation, you simply must have it set up before you start your journey.
- As long as drivers are not driving, but stopped, they can use a device.
This is false! Even if you are sitting at a red light or a stop sign and try to use these devices, it is still considered distracted driving.
- To call 911 you have to pull over.
This is false, you are allowed to call 911 while driving if this is an emergency situation. However, when doing this, be careful of how you are driving. Most drivers will pull off the road and ensure they are safely out of the way of traffic.
- Changing the radio station and/or the AC/heat is against the law.
No, this is not against the law when it comes to distracted driving. However, be sure to use common sense when making these changes as you can become easily distracted when trying to find the right radio station to listen to.
- If you are pulled over using a cell phone, you can go to jail.
This is not true…or at least not true yet. These laws could change once the new year gets here. You will get a fine, and you will have points put onto your license.
Do this enough and you could lose your license indefinitely. In addition, you are taken to jail if you have violated this law several times.
- Just glancing and holding the phone is no big deal.
This is blatantly false! Any time that you are holding a cell phone or even glancing at it, police can assume that you are distracted, and you can be charged for violating this law.
A good rule of thumb is to place your phone in a purse, the dashboard, a briefcase or anywhere else that you won’t be tempted to use it…or just glance at it.
Tips to Ensure you are not Distracted while Driving
For those who will be driving on Ontario’s roads, we have gathered a few tips that can help ensure that you remain vigilant while on the road.
- If you are using a hands-free device be sure to activate it before getting on the road. Do not wait to do this when you are on the road or sitting at a light.
- Be sure to input GPS information before you start driving to avoid distracted driving on the roadways.
- If you feel as though you can’t answer your phone, be sure to use silent notifications on your phone so that you are not tempted to answer it.
- Above all else, use common sense when doing anything while driving other than keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. While the distracted driving laws are meant for cell phone use, remember that there are tons of other things that can cause you to become distracted!
- If you must stay in contact with others while driving, have your passenger answer the phone calls and texts. Your main goal is to drive safely, so your attention should be focused on this. Remember, any text or phone call can wait until you are safely parked or out of the vehicle.
The most important tip to remember is that distracted driving does result in people dying…it has been seen on the roadways time and time again.
It is these stats that made the distracted driving laws become the law. Avoid the temptation to take that quick call or answer that quick text that was sent to you…it could result in major legal issues or it come become why you or someone else becomes injured.
For those who have been a victim of distracted drivers, you do have rights. Contact Conte Jaswal to let us help you figure out how to deal with this injury so that the person responsible can be brought to justice.
Contact us today for a FREE Consultation.