Distracted Driving

Using your phone to talk, text, check maps or choose a playlist while you’re behind the wheel all count as distracted driving – $490.00 and 3 Demerit Points.

Offence

Distracted Driving

Demerit Points

3 Points

Fines

$490.00 – $1,000.00. License Suspension for Novice Drivers.

Distracted Driving

For those who are caught driving distracted and plead guilty, the minimum fine is $490 and 3 demerit points. For those who choose to fight their distracted driving fine and are found guilty, fines could be increased up to $1000. For a first infraction, novice drivers (those with G1, G2, M1 or M2 licenses) face a 30 day license suspension.

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Ontario's tough distracted driving rules take effect Jan 1, 2019

New rules that will mean automatic driver’s licence suspension for convicted distracted drivers in Ontario will soon take effect after receiving Royal Assent, 680NEWS has learned.

“The law has been passed — it’s now just a matter of time,” Toronto police Const. Clint Stibbe told 680 NEWS on Monday.

“You the driver has to decide, is answering that text message or making that phone call going to be worth it when you can’t buy your way out of this anymore. You will receive a licence suspension and you will receive a substantial fine.”

The fines for distracted driving would increase from a maximum of $1,000 to up to $2,000 on a second conviction and up to $3,000 for third or subsequent incidents, as well as six demerit points for multiple offences.

Offenders would also see their licence suspended for three days on a first offence, seven days after two convictions, and 30 days for third and further convictions.

However, officers won’t be able to seize a driver’s licence at roadside. A judge would have to order it suspended only after the driver is found guilty.

Based on preliminary data from 2016, distracted driving was to blame for 7,435 crashes in Toronto. Of those collisions, eight were fatal, 2,642 resulted in injury and 4,785 caused property damage.

With files from The Canadian Press

What exactly is the distracted driving law?

In Ontario, it’s against the law to:

  • operate hand-held communication and electronic entertainment devices while you’re driving
  • view display screens unrelated to your driving

Examples of hand-held devices include:

  • iPods and MP3 players
  • GPS
  • cell phones
  • smart phones
  • laptops
  • DVD players

What about hands-free devices?

You can use any device that you do not touch, hold or manipulate while driving, other than to activate or deactivate it. Actions like dialing or scrolling through contacts are not allowed.

Type of device

Can I use it?

A cell phone with an earpiece, headset or Bluetooth device using voice-activated dialing.

Yes – only to activate or deactivate a “hands-free” function, and only if the device is mounted or secured.
Actions like dialing or scrolling through contacts are not allowed.

A GPS screen

Yes – provided the GPS is mounted on the dashboard or windshield. 
You must input the required information before you start driving.

A portable media player plugged into the vehicle’s sound system.

Yes – but you must activate the playlist before driving

Display screens that are built into the vehicle and used for safety reasons.

Yes

Ignition interlock devices.

Yes

What you can do to reduce distracted driving?

Driving always requires your full attention. Here are some distracted driving solutions provided to help make your drive safer:

Plan Your Route – Planning your route should occur before getting in the car so you have a good handle on where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Plan how much time you’ll need to reach your destination, road closures to avoid and best time to leave. If you will be using a GPS system, program your route prior to starting the car. If your GPS can call out the turns, you should have it set to do so. Have the volume set so you can hear the instructions and do not need to glance down to view the GPS.

Put your Cell Phone Away – Cell phones should be out of your reach. Reduce the temptation by keeping it out of sight, like in the trunk or in a bag, and turn the ringer off. Most smartphones can now be setup to send an auto reply when you receive a text or phone call.

Passengers – Passengers in your vehicle is a common distraction, as a result, graduated licensing (in some provinces) limits the number of passengers that are allowed with a younger driver. Advise your passengers to be quiet if a risky situation arises on the road; your attention will be less on the road if you’re talking/listening to them. Silence will also help when deciding what the safest actions to take are.

Having passengers in your car differs from talking on the phone because the person on the other end of the phone will not know when to be quiet as they are unable to spot any safety risks.

Eating and Drinking – It’s best to avoid eating and drinking while driving. If you need to take a drink, wait until you are stopped at a red light.

Music – Music should never be so loud that you would not be able to hear a siren, or the screech of brakes from another vehicle.

Personal Grooming – Do your personal grooming at home, not while driving a vehicle.

Secure Objects – Place any items like purses, backpacks and coats in the trunk or safely tucked behind the seat on the ground so they will not go flying if you have to brake in an emergency. Items that are flying around may distract you from the road. For example, items that are falling out of your purse might grab your attention and your instinctive reaction may be to reach for the things that are/went flying.

Ontario's tough distracted driving laws one step closer to taking effect

New rules that will mean automatic driver’s licence suspension for convicted distracted drivers in Ontario will soon take effect after receiving Royal Assent, 680NEWS has learned.

“The law has been passed — it’s now just a matter of time,” Toronto police Const. Clint Stibbe told 680 NEWS on Monday.

“You the driver has to decide, is answering that text message or making that phone call going to be worth it when you can’t buy your way out of this anymore. You will receive a licence suspension and you will receive a substantial fine.”

The fines for distracted driving would increase from a maximum of $1,000 to up to $2,000 on a second conviction and up to $3,000 for third or subsequent incidents, as well as six demerit points for multiple offences.

Offenders would also see their licence suspended for three days on a first offence, seven days after two convictions, and 30 days for third and further convictions.

However, officers won’t be able to seize a driver’s licence at roadside. A judge would have to order it suspended only after the driver is found guilty.

Based on preliminary data from 2016, distracted driving was to blame for 7,435 crashes in Toronto. Of those collisions, eight were fatal, 2,642 resulted in injury and 4,785 caused property damage.

With files from The Canadian Press

What are the fines / penalties for breaking Ontario's distracted driving law?

As of September 1, 2015 the fines and penalties for distracted driving will increase.

If convicted of distracted driving, a fully licenced driver (holder of Class A, B, C, D, E, F, G) or a hybrid driver (holder of a full-class licence and a novice licence such as Class G and M1) will receive:

  • a fine of $400, plus a victim surcharge and court fee, for a total of $490 if settled out of court
  • fine of up to $1,000 if you receive a summons or fight your ticket
  • three demerit points applied to your driver’s record

If convicted of distracted driving, a novice driver (subject to the Graduated Licensing program) will be subject to escalating sanctions:

  • first occurrence will result in a 30-day licence suspension
  • second occurrence will result in 90-day licence suspension
  • licence cancellation and removal from the Graduated Licensing System for a third occurrence

Novice drivers will not be subject to demerit points.

Drivers who endanger others because of any distraction, including hand-held and hands-free devices, may still be charged with Careless Driving under the Highway Traffic Act or even Dangerous Driving under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Both charges carry heavy fines and penalties, if convicted, including 6 demerit points, fines of up to $2,000 and /or a jail term of six months, and up to two-year licence suspension in the case of Careless Driving. Dangerous Driving is a criminal offence and includes jail terms of up to five years.

Can I use my hand-held device when I'm stopped at a stop light?

No. With the exception of a call to the police, fire department or emergency medical services personnel, a driver of a motor vehicle must be pulled off the roadway and not impeding traffic, or lawfully parked to use these hand-held devices.

Note : It is dangerous to stop on the shoulder of a 400-series highway and drivers are prohibited from pulling off a designated 400-series highway and parking for a reason other than an emergency. If the situation is not an emergency, drivers are advised to exit the freeway at an interchange or pull into the nearest service centre.

It is important to remember that collisions do not just occur while a vehicle is in motion. Drivers stopped at lights and using a cell phone or smart phone (e.g., BlackBerry) are often not paying attention to the light cycle and frequently miss advance turn signals or green lights. They are also not paying attention to the actions of other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.

Are there any exemptions to Ontario's distracted driving law?

When driving, you are not permitted to use hand-held communication and entertainment devices or view display screens unrelated to the driving task, with the following exceptions:

  • Calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation
  • When the driver is lawfully parked or has safely pulled off the roadway and is not impeding traffic.

Note: It is dangerous to stop on the shoulder of a 400-series highway and drivers are prohibited from pulling off a designated 400-series highway and parking for a reason other than an emergency. If the situation is not an emergency, drivers are advised to exit the freeway at an interchange or pull into the nearest service centre.

Commercial and public transit drivers, as well as public service workers who are engaged in the performance of their duties, will be able to view the display screens of mobile data terminals and logistical tracking and dispatching devices. Specified commercial, public transit (includes bus) and public function drivers, and licenced amateur radio operators have been provided an exemption for the hand-held use of two-way (“CB”) radios until January 1, 2021.

Other devices not included in the ban:

  • Viewing a display screen used for collision avoidance systems
  • Viewing a display screen of an instrument, gauge or system that provides information on the conditions, use and immediate environment of the vehicle or that provides road or weather information
  • Ignition interlock
  • Car audio screens that display still images

Devices like hand-mikes and portable radios (walkie-talkies) that do not have a microphone connected to a separate receiver may not be used as hand-held devices, but may be used in a hands-free manner. Drivers may use a lapel button or press a button on the device to transmit or receive voice communication as long as the hand-mike or walkie-talkie is mounted or secured and is not being held while driving.

Viewing display screens of a mobile data terminal is allowed for commercial purposes. These devices provide operational information from a dispatcher or control centre, and are essential to commercial operations, including licensed taxi and limousine services, couriers, tow truck and roadside assistance services. Many public services, including public transit, also rely on these devices.

mto.gov.on.ca

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