June 12, 2019 | By: Robert M. Durante, Erin Murray
Driving is something most of us do every day, but that doesn’t mean we can multitask on the road. While it feels automatic, operating a vehicle safely requires constant and complete attention: a moment’s distraction could mean catastrophic injury or death.
Sadly, that hasn’t been enough to stop people from texting or emailing while driving. Deaths from distracted driving have doubled since 2000. The government has responded by increasing the penalties for the offence of Distracted Driving. As of January 1, 2019, the penalties for distracted driving have increased to;
– First conviction: up to a $1000 fine, 3 day licence suspension and 3 demerit points;
– Second conviction within 5 years: up to $2000 fine, 7 day licence suspension and 6 demerit points; and
– Third conviction within 5 years: up to $3000 fine, 30 day licence suspension and 6 demerit points.
Distracted driving encompasses a wide range of activities; anything from holding your phone in your hand to typing into a GPS while driving counts. The definition of driving includes if you are at a standstill in traffic or at a red light.
Hearing our phones go off while we drive can make it tempting to quickly check them. Recent iPhones have a function called “Do not disturb while driving” which limits your notifications to phone calls through Bluetooth. Once activated, it will turn on automatically as soon as your phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth, and turn off when you receive. All your notifications will be there when you reach your destination, but they won’t be distracting you while you are behind the wheel. Activate this setting by going to Settings -> Do Not Disturb.
If you seriously injure or kill someone while driving distracted, the consequences are far greater: apart from the guilt, many claims for catastrophic injury exceed standard auto policy limits most of us carry. Talk to your insurer or broker about increasing your coverage; this will not only protect your personal assets, but will also provide you and your family with adequate coverage if you are injured in an accident.