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Distracted Driving in Ontario

Distracted Driving in Ontario

Do you remember a time when we didn’t have a cell phone with us in a vehicle, tempting us to either answer a text or change a playlist while driving? Barely, right? Over the years, technology has creeped its way into our everyday lives, to the point where even young children now have cell phones. Though this is our new “norm”, it’s crucial to remember that when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle, our technology (whether a phone, a tablet, a GPS system, etc.) has to take the back seat.

When you think of distracted driving, the first thing that typically comes to mind is cell phone usage. This is still one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in Ontario, as per a 2019 Ontario road safety annual report, where 15.7% of collisions occurred due to inattentive driving (also resulting in 85 fatalities). However, it’s not only technology that contributes to distracted driving. Eating or drinking, reading (a map, a book, a text or email), brushing your hair or applying makeup, even just chatting with your passenger are all contributors to distracted driving accidents.

Did you know?

  • You’re 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you text and drive
  • Taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds (the length of time it takes to read a text) at 90 km/h is the equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed2
  • 94% of teen drivers understand the dangers of texting and driving, yet 35% of those teens still admit to doing it
  • 47% of Canadians admit to either typing out or using the voice-memo function to send a text while driving
  • It takes only 3 seconds of a driver’s attention to be taken from the road for a crash to occur
  • It takes 27 seconds to get back into “driving mode” after you’ve focused your attention elsewhere while driving
  • Loud music can also be considered a distraction while driving (have you ever found yourself turning down the music in your car when you’re looking for a street address or trying to read road signs? This is because you’re more likely to focus on the music than what it is you’re looking for)

How does a distracted driving conviction affect my insurance?

As of January 2019, Ontario cracked down on distracted driving, increasing the conviction type from minor to major, as well as increasing the fines and license penalties (see below). Regardless of severity of conviction, they stay on your motor vehicle report (MVR) for 3 years, but the insurance companies will rate the convictions differently based on whether it’s a minor, major or criminal. A distracted driving conviction is now middle of the pack for most insurers.

What are the penalties for distracted driving in Ontario?

  • First conviction:
    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court 
    • a fine of up to $1,000 if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • three demerit points
    • 3-day suspension
  • Second conviction
    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court 
    • a fine of up to $2,000 if you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • six demerit points
    • 7-day suspension
  • Third and any further conviction(s)
    • a fine of $615, if settled out of court 
    • a fine of up to $3,000 if  you fight the ticket in court and lose
    • six demerit points
    • 30-day suspension

Despite the statistics and knowing the dangers, people still resort to allowing themselves to be distracted while driving. But why? Logically, it doesn’t make sense. Let’s explore some of the reasons.

  • We believe we are good multitaskers
  • FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing – people want to be constantly connected so that they don’t miss something important
  • We don’t think it will happen to us

Here are some ways that you can avoid distracted driving

  • Turn off your phone or put it on silent (some phones even have a feature that can tell when you’re driving and automatically mutes notifications)
  • Keep your cell phone locked in the glove compartment of your vehicle while you’re traveling
  • Give your phone or leave the GPS navigation up to your passenger to handle
  • Keep the music at a reasonable level 
  • Set up your playlist or navigation system before leaving home, or if you need to use or change something in route, pull over safely before doing so

Distracted driving has been deemed just as, if not more, dangerous than drinking and driving. Drivers underestimate its severity so they do it more often. Don’t wait until you get into an accident caused by distracted driving to do something about it. Prevention is possible, and it’s essential.

We’re always here to help if you have any questions!

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