Distracted driving is the #1 cause of fatal car accidents in Ontario, says the OPP.
In fact during 2017, 107 people were killed in car accidents as a result of distracted drivers. (5)
The scary part is that since distracted driving is not scientifically proven like drinking and driving is, the numbers may actually be a higher.
So how much do we know about distracted driving and what fines result from getting a distracted driving ticket?
TEXTING AND DRIVING
Distracted driving laws in Ontario apply to the use of all hand-held communication & entertainment devices including phones, tablets and gaming gadgets.
It’s illegal to use a cell phone while driving for anything other than calling 911. No programming your GPS either unless you use voice commands, since hands-free use of devices is still permitted.
Forget about squeezing in that text while at a red light because the Ontario distracted driving laws apply equally whether you are moving or stopped in traffic.
EATING WHILE DRIVING
While eating, smoking, grooming and reading are NOT a part of Ontario’s distracted driving law, you can still be charged with careless or dangerous driving which come with their own hefty penalties.
DISTRACTED DRIVING FINES
If convicted, the penalties of distracted driving depends on the type of license you carry, how long you’ve been driving, and whether or not it’s your first offence. Penalties can include:
1. Fine of up to $3000
2. Up to 6 demit points
3. License suspension for of up to 30 days.
It’s important to also understand that you can also be charged with careless driving in addition to distracted driving if you endanger other people because of your distraction.
HOW TO AVOID DISTRACTED DRIVING
The easiest way is to simply turn off your phone or switch to silent mode before getting into the car.
You can also put it in the glove box, or in a bag on the back seat out of arms reach.
Some phones are also equipped with an automated message that alerts people that you are driving and will get back to them later. If you must make a call or send a text while on the road, it’s best to pull over to a safe area before doing so.
Deaths from distracted driving have doubled in Ontario in recent years and those using a phone are 4 times more like to crash than those who aren’t so do your part in putting the device away and keeping your focus on the road!
DISTRACTED DRIVING STATS
Texting takes your eyes off the road for approximately 5 seconds at a time. At 90 km/h, that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. (1)
Mobile phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million vehicle crashes each year. (2)
The chances of a collision are increased 3.6 times when using a cell phone. (3)
More than 33% of Ontario high school students (grades 10 to 12) say they have texted while driving at least once in the past year. (4)
HOW CAN DISTRACTED DRIVING IMPACT YOUR AUTO INSURANCE?
Ontario Mutual’s, including Erie Mutual Insurance, use what’s called a Risk Point Chart to assess a drivers overall driving record. This chart helps determine if a driver can be insured and if so, what their auto insurance will cost.
If a driver is found to be at fault for an auto accident this results in either 2 risk points (if the driver is licensed four years or more) or 4 risk points (if the driver is licensed for less than 4 years) towards their driving record. When a driver is convicted of distracted driving this is considered a major conviction and the result is 4 risk points being added to a driving record regardless of how long someone has had their license.
Once a driver has accumulated 4 risk points they are no longer eligible for regular insurance rates and could have their auto insurance policy cancelled when it expires that term. When that happens, the driver would need to seek out an insurer offering polices in the higher risk market and pay more for their auto insurance.
Bottom line: even when a distracted driving related accident isn’t fatal, it can still have serious impacts on your life. Put the phone away!
Erie Mutual Insurance proudly serves the commercial insurance, farm insurance, home insurance and auto insurance needs of members throughout Southern Ontario including Haldimand, Niagara and Hamilton.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.
1 – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
2 – National Safety Council
3 – Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
4 – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
5 – Ontario Ministry of Transportation