Last updated Feb. 2, 2018.
Distracted driving is a problematic national issue, to say the least. Provinces are toughening the laws to discourage cellphone use and distracted driving, but the number of associated accidents is still far too high.
According to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP):
“Distracted driving is cited as a causal factor in 30 to 50% of traffic collisions on Ontario, but is probably much higher due to under-reporting.”
On a wider scale, distracted driving is a contributing factor in roughly 4 million traffic accidents in North America, according to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
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The Dangers of Distracted Driving in Canada
In its online education portal, the CAA provides a handful of statistics regarding distracted driving that should serve as a wake-up call for Canadians. A few facts especially stand out.
- Drivers who text are eight times as likely to be involved in a crash. Speaking on a cellphone, hands-free or not, makes you four times as likely. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)
- Four out of five collisions involve some form of driver inattention, while about two-third of near-crashes do. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
- Our economic losses in Canada due to health costs and lost productivity after traffic collisions totals more than $10 billion per year. (Government of Canada)
Per the OPP, distracted driving fatalities surpassed both impaired and speed-related fatalities as the cause of motor vehicle collisions in 2013. That year, 78 people died in accidents related to distracted driving.
Today, about one person is injured in a distracted-driving accident in Ontario every half-hour.
Ontario Distracted Driving Laws
In Ontario, you can be penalised — and heavily — for distracted driving. It is against the law to use any hand-held device or electronic entertainment device (such as an e-reader) while driving. The only exception is turning a hand-held device on or off. You can use a mounted device, such as GPS, but only if it stays in place.
The type of fine depends on the licence you have:
- A to G licences: $490 fine if settled out of court (up to $1,000 if summons received), plus three demerit points.
- G1, G2, M1 or M2 licences: same fines minus demerit points; instead, you’ll receive a 30-day licence suspension for first offence, 90-day for second offence, and cancellation of your license for the third offence with removal from the Graduated Licensing System.
Sound worth it? We think not.
Common Driver Distractions
Unfortunately, not all distractions in the car are because of our technology. While you may face fines or a licence suspension by using a cellphone while driving, there are other ways to create dangers on the road.
Here are some of the common types of distractions drivers engage in while driving:
- Texting and driving
- Engaging in conversation with passengers
- Children or animals in the car
- Talking on the phone
- Using a handheld device (to surf the internet, engage in social media, scroll through photos, play music)
- Reading a navigation system’s screen
- Reading road signs
- Looking at an outside object, person, or event
- Trying to stop something from moving in the car
- Putting on makeup and other forms of personal grooming
- Reaching for something
- Eating or drinking
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How to Reduce Distracted Driving in Ontario
It’s imperative for everyone to do their part and avoid behaviors that cause you to become distracted. Your life — and everyone else’s on the road — could depend on it.
Keep the following tips in mind to help reduce your risk of a distraction-related accident.
- Take the pledge not to text and drive. Take the D.O.N.T. (Drive Only… Never Text) pledge online, and use the hashtag #iDONTpledge to spread the word.
- Read over the directions to your location prior to embarking. You don’t want to fumble with a map or your navigator while driving.
- Ensure your children, pets, and loose objects are properly secured in the vehicle.
- Do not use your mobile device for any reason while driving. Texting can wait, and phone calls can go to voicemail. If it’s urgent, pull over in a safe area.
- Save the eating and grooming for when you’re stopped.
The OPP’s tweet (@OPP_News) provides a simple, effectual call to action: “Arrive alive. It’s your responsibility to direct your entire attention to driving safely.”
Legal Help for an Ontario Distracted Driving Accident
If you or your loved one have been involved in a distracted-driving accident in Ontario, contact our attorneys at Preszler Law Firm today. We can help you seek the compensation you deserve after a free initial consultation.