Tougher Distracted Driving Laws Effective January 1, 2019
December 11, 2018 | By: Colleen MacDonald
Motorists who are caught talking on a cell phone, texting, dialing, and emailing using a handheld device will soon be subjected to much tougher laws as outlined in the Province of Ontario’s Bill 174 Cannabis Legislation.
Effective January 1, 2019, the existing fines and penalties will be increased as follows:
• First conviction – up to a $1000 fine, 3 day license suspension and 3 demerit points
• Second conviction within 5 years- up to $2000 fine, 7 day licence suspension and 6 six demerit points
• Third conviction within 5 years- up to $3000 fine, 30 day licence suspension and 6 six demerit points.
Distracted driving is no longer limited to making phone calls and texting. It now constitutes anything that causes a driver to be less focused on the road. It will now include holding an electronic device in your hand, eating while driving, applying make- up, reading documents, turning around to get something from the back seat and typing a destination into your GPS. It’s considered an offence to complete these activities, even while stopped at a red light.
The only exemptions to the law would be calling 911 in emergency situations and when the motorist is lawfully parked or safely pulled off the roadway not impeding traffic. It is dangerous to stop and pull over on a four hundred series highway so drivers are prohibited from doing so unless it is an emergency. Instead it is recommended they exit the highway at the nearest interchange or service centre.
The Ministry of Transportation website indicates a motorist can use a device that you do not touch, hold or manipulate while driving (other than to activate or deactivate it). It must be securely attached to the vehicle.
The Province of Ontario statistics indicate that deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since 2000. Data from collisions since 2013 indicate that one person is injured in a distracted driving collision every half hour. Drivers using their cell phones are four times more likely to crash.
Distracted driving is the number one cause of deaths on Ontario roads. Let’s do our part to stay focused and keep our roadways safe!