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New Ontario Laws Crack Down on Distracted Driving

Distracted driving, particularly the use of handheld devices while driving, has become such a huge problem that the Ontario government is proposing new laws.

The Ontario Provincial Police explain the magnitude of the issue at hand: “Distracted driving is cited as a causal factor in 30 to 50 percent of traffic collisions in Ontario, but is probably much higher due to under-reporting.”

Distracted driving kills. Period. And the laws are finally being put into place to encourage drivers to keep their eyes on the road and to put safety first.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become the number-one killer on the roads in Ontario, reports CBC News. When you take your eyes off the road for two seconds, it doubles your risk of crashing, reports the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (OMT). Using a cellphone, texting or scrolling through your Facebook feed draws your eyes off the road for more than two seconds.

Furthermore, drivers using a cell phone are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than those who are focused on the road, cautions the OMT.

The OMT reports a few more alarming statistics from various studies:

  • People react 18 percent slower when using a cell phone than when not using one. (Strayer and Drews, 2004)
  • Texting increases your risk of crashing by nearly three times. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2009)
  • Truck drivers who texted in one study increased their risk of crashing by 23.2 times. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2009)
  • The rate at which teens failed to identify potential dangers rose 50 percent when using a cell phone. (Ford Motor Company, 2007)

Ontario’s New Road Safety Bill

The above statistics are only a snapshot of the dangers of distracted drivers; there are actually scores of studies pointing to the risks. And Ontario lawmakers are fed up.

In an effort to discourage distracted driving and to make Ontario roads safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, Transportation Minister Glen Murray introduced a bill proposal – the Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act – that increases fines and gives demerit points to those caught driving distractedly.

Currently, Ontario drivers will only get penalized with small fines if they are cited for using a handheld device while driving, and there are no demerit points. The proposed legislation would increase fines up to $1,000 and provide that drivers can get three demerit points. Demerit points on drivers’ records can mean higher insurance premiums.

“We need to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as impaired driving, and we think some of provisions included today should do that,” Canadian Automobile Association spokeswoman Teresa Di Felice said, reports the Toronto Star.

Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act

It’s lawmakers’ hope that the new act will discourage dangerous behaviors on the road and allow motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to commute safely in Ontario.

Under the proposed laws, stringent attention to the road is required in order to avoid citation. CBC News shares the Toronto Police Department’s no-nonsense explanation: The offense applies to “any action that a driver engages in [that] takes their focus away from the safe operation of a motor vehicle.”

Legal Counsel in Ontario

If you are in need of counsel or representation in Ontario following an accident that a distracted driver caused, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to assist you. Contact us for a free consultation.

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