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New Distracted Driving Penalties in Ontario

Ontario just rolled out new fines and suspensions for Distracting Driving on January 1st, 2019. Here’s what you need to know;

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is considered any activity that takes your focus off the road, even when you’re sitting stopped at a red light. These activities include;

  • Using any electronic device; making or accepting phone calls, texting/emailing, reading, watching videos, checking directions, and changing music.
  • Eating and drinking.
  • Grooming or applying make up.
  • Reading documents, papers or books.
  • Typing routes or destinations into a GPS.
  • Adjusting Entertainment systems.
  • Looking for or reaching for a fallen/moving item in your vehicle.
  • Simply holding a device in your hand.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada states that;

  • Drivers are 23 more times likely to be involved in an accident while texting and driving.
  • In Canada, distracted driving is the number one risk on the road, 8 of 10 collisions are caused by a driver who is distracted.
  • If convicted for distracting driving you can expect your insurance premiums to rise.

These are the new penalties as of January 1st, 2019 according to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation;

Drivers with A to G licences

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

Novice drivers

If you hold a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and are convicted of distracted driving, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points.

Instead of demerit points you’ll face longer suspensions:

  • a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
  • a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
  • cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction
    • to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program

Tips for avoiding Distracted Driving

  • Be an attentive driver, focus only on driving.
  • Set your phone to “Driving Mode” to avoid the temptation.
  • Make all calls or send any communication out before you leave.
  • Enter your destination into your GPS before heading out.
  • Secure all loose items or gear before hitting the road to avoid them moving while driving.
  • Adjust seats, mirrors, temperature controls and sound system while still in park.
  • Enlist your passengers to navigate, or change controls of radio, climate etc.
  • Don’t eat and drive – eat first before you leave, if you must eat, pull over.
  • Turn down the music.
  • Take regular breaks on long trips.
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