We’re all busier than ever before, which is why we’ve become more reliant on the latest technology. Technology provides convenience. With new smartphones coming, every month it seems, the things they allow us to do are amazing. While we may feel more connected with our smartphones we’ve become more disconnected with our surroundings. This leads to distracted driving habits. This is especially dangerous when driving a car, truck, bus or construction equipment.
Changes to Distracted Driving Laws in Ontario
The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario has, effective January 1, 2019, again increased the fines for distracted driving. They now start at $615 and increase to $1,000 and each infraction gives three demerit points upon conviction as well as a possible 3 day licence suspension. For a second offence within 5 years the fine is $2,000, 6 demerit points, and your licence will be suspended for 7 days.
If a driver has further convictions for distracted driving the result is a $3,000 fine, 6 demerit points and a 30 day licence suspension.
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Those drivers who have a graduated licence, G1, G2, M1, M2 will face increased penalties. A graduated licence holder who gains a conviction for distracted driving has higher licence suspensions. 30 day suspension for a first offence, 90 day suspension for a second, and licence cancellation for a third.
What Happens to Your Car Insurance with a Distracted Driving Conviction?
A driver’s insurance rates will sky rocket for years as distracted driving is now a major infraction. A major infraction means insurance companies will view a driver with a distracted driving ticket as a greater risk of causing an accident. Insurance companies will then price their insurance higher. A few will not even insure drivers with a major infraction. This means a driver will have to seek insurance from a high risk insurance company, which means even greater costs.
Everyone can understand the reasoning behind increasing the fines. Driving is a complex job, which, to do properly, requires concentration on the world around you. Other vehicles, lights, animals, and pedestrians all require you to be aware of what you are doing when behind the wheel.
Distracted driving has increased because sometimes people look at driving as just an everyday thing. It’s easy to become complacent and so you cheat a little.
Related Read: Drive for Skip the Dishes? Don’t Skip the Insurance
Distracted Driving Defined
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police defines distracted driving as form of impaired driving as a driver’s judgement is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road. Using handheld devices such as phones or laptops, reading, grooming, eating or drinking and tending to pets or children while driving could lead to you being charged with distracted driving. Why? Because these kinds of distractions impede your ability to judge speeds and distances, respond to other drivers and pedestrians, and to follow traffic signs and signals.
How Likely is an Inattentive Driver Going to get into an Accident?
According to the Ontario Provincial Police a distracted driver is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road. A study of collisions from 2013 revealed that one person is injured in a distracted driving accident every half hour. This is likely a conservative estimate due to under-reporting of accidents and incidents.
According to the Ontario Road and Safety Annual Report 2014 there were 12,429 people injured in accidents where the condition of the driver was deemed Inattentive. These injuries could have been preventable. Insurance costs are driven higher each year because of more injuries arising from car accidents.
Here are some more distracted driving facts:
- You are four times more likely to be in a collision if you talk on your phone while driving. Even if you use the hands free options.
- A driver is 23 more times likely to be involved in a collision if they are texting on their phone while driving.
- Drivers who use a cell phone while driving react 18 percent slower.
- Personal grooming, eating and drinking, and excessively loud music.
- Loose items falling in your car, drawing your attention can all be a distraction when driving.
- According to the OPP distracted driving is now the number one cause of deaths on Ontario roads.
Here are some things to consider before you take that next drive:
- Speeding reduces your reaction time, drive the speed limit.
- While driving turn off your smartphone alerts.
- If you must take a call make sure you are using hands free technology. In fact it’s best to pull off the street altogether as even having a conversation over the phone while driving is distracting.
- For longer drives switch drivers if you are able.
- Secure all items in your car to avoid distractions.
We know that more traffic tickets makes your car insurance more expensive, but more than that distracted driving kills. According to the Ontario Provincial Police 65 people were killed because of distracted driving in 2016.
You control how you drive. It’s time for us all to be more responsible drivers.
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Lackner McLennan and Erb and Erb create these informational articles with the intention of educating the public about insurance and investment related matters. This article does not substitute for broker advice regarding your specific insurance or investment needs. For a comprehensive strategy to tackle what you, your family, or your business, may need we invite you to speak directly to a broker who can guide you through all the options available to you.