In 2013, the OPP dealt with 78 deaths from distracted driving crashes compared to 57 deaths in impaired driving crashes and 44 deaths in speed-related crashes.
People in Ontario know it is illegal to text or hold a phone to their ear while driving. However, many do not take the law seriously. We have all seen countless drivers looking at or talking into cellphones in flagrant violation of the law. The fine for distracted driving is set to increase from $155 to $280 starting on March 18. Time will tell whether the stiffer fine will modify driver behaviour.
If you cause a crash because of distracted driving the $280 fine may be the least of your worries. If you seriously injure someone you will become a defendant in a lawsuit. In our legal system, if your negligence causes an injury to another person you are obliged to compensate the injured person for all of his or her economic losses.
For serious injuries the economic losses can be very substantial. If you are texting, checking Facebook or talking into a phone held to your ear while driving and you are in a car crash you will almost certainly be found to be negligent. While your insurance company may pay the full claim against you, your insurance rates will go up. You will also have to live with the guilt that your decision to send a text seriously injured another person.
It is safer just to turn the phone off while driving that way there is no temptation by the sound of a text or the seductive blinking red light on the phone that is very hard to ignore.