If you are driving a motor vehicle in Ottawa or any other part of Canada, you have a legal obligation to focus on driving safely and remaining aware of your surroundings.
If you fail to pay attention to the road, there is a much greater risk that you will end up in a serious accident. In an effort to decrease the risk of distracted driving accidents, there are severe penalties in Ontario for drivers who operate vehicles while distracted.
The following will review some of the important things Ontario motor vehicle drivers should know to avoid driving while distracted.
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What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving occurs when someone who is operating a motor vehicle engages in activities that take the driver’s attention off of the road. A countless number of studies reveal that drivers who operate vehicles while distracted are much more likely to end up in accidents.
The province of Ontario has adapted its laws over time to reflect what it views as distracted driving activities. In accordance with current regulations, a person can be penalized for distracted driving even when his or her vehicle is stopped at a red light.
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How Ontario Laws Address Distracted Driving
There are laws in Ontario that specifically address distracted driving. The best way to avoid penalties associated with violating this law is to avoid the activities that Ontario classifies as distractions.
Some of the most common distractions that drivers face while on the road include using or even holding smartphones in any way while driving, reading anything – be it on paper or a screen, fiddling with a GPS device, or playing with the radio.
While driving a vehicle in a distracted manner can result in a serious accident, there are some activities that are recognized as exceptions under Ontario’s distracted driving laws. Some of the permitted activities include using a phone to contact emergency services, contacting people on a vehicle’s Bluetooth system, and using an ignition interlock device. Generally, if a person must hold a device in their hands while driving, it is considered a prohibited activity.
New Ontario Distracted Driving Laws in 2019
Effective January 1, 2019, there are new distracted driving laws in Ontario. The purpose of these new laws is to reduce the number of drivers who attempt to use smartphones while driving. The law now contains increased penalties for motor vehicle drivers who use smartphones and endanger others on the road.
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How to Avoid Distracted Driving Accidents
The Government of Ontario, as well as other safe driving organizations, recommend some helpful strategies to avoid distracted driving. People drive while distracted because they think it is necessary to do so. Try the following to eliminate distracted driving behaviors behind the wheel:
- Eliminate distracting devices before getting in your vehicle to avoid the urge to use them.
- Ask a passenger to use a device so that you do not have to.
- Eat before driving.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so you do not feel like you are in a hurry to get there.
- Learn what your route is before getting into a vehicle.
- Make sure that your vehicle is kept clean and free of debris, which could otherwise shift around the vehicle and distract you.
- Never operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Turn off devices or place them somewhere out of reach before getting into a vehicle.
What Makes Distracted Driving Dangerous?
There are some startling statistics compiled by the Canadian Automobile Association and the Insurance Bureau of Canada regarding the dangers presented by distracted driving. Some of these statistics include the following:
- If a driver texts while traveling on the 400-series highway, for every five seconds that a driver looks at a smartphone, the vehicle travels the distance of a football field. This means that if a driver looks away for even a few seconds, he or she will not have adequate time to respond to a hazardous obstacle that appears in the road suddenly. Instead, it is critical that drivers focus on the road and the surrounding conditions whenever they operate a vehicle.
- Distracted driving accidents are common. There are approximately 4 million car accidents in North America that occur as a result of distracted drivers each year. Given that distracted driving accidents occur so frequently, drivers must remain cautious of them and take steps to reduce the number of distractions in their vehicles.
Penalties for Distracted Drivers
Ontario recognizes several levels of penalties that a driver can face if they are convicted of any type of distracted driving behavior. The classification into which a driver’s offense falls depends on his or her license level as well as the degree of dangerousness or recklessness involved in the distracted driving offense. Penalties include fines, points, and in some cases even jail time.
How Distracted Driving Impacts Ottawa Insurance
In addition to criminal penalties, drivers in Ottawa can also find their insurance prices increasing as a result of distracted driving charges. Distracted driving is viewed as a major driving offense as it suggests that a driver is engaging in dangerous behavior and putting him or herself and others at risk.
This is reflected in statistics from Ontario, which reveal that smartphone users are four times more likely than other drivers to end up in an accident. Some experts even argue that distracted driving is the second most dangerous driving behavior, behind only driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Speak with an Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer
Distracted driving is a growing danger in Ottawa and the rest of Ontario. If you or your loved one has been harmed as the result of distracted driving, it can be confusing to determine how to proceed. Fortunately, an experienced accident lawyer at Preszler Law Firm can help you fight for the results you deserve. Contact our law office today to schedule a free initial consultation.