Ontario will soon be rolling out new driving laws that will apply stricter punishments on individuals caught driving while distracted.
The automatic suspension of driver’s licences, as well as the charging fines of $1,000 or over, will be imposed on convicted distracted drivers under the updated regulations. But what counts as distracted driving in Ontario?
According to the official Government of Ontario website, anything that causes a driver to be less focused on the road constitutes distracted driving. These include activities such as:
- Simply holding an electronic device in your hands (hand-held communication during driving is against the law)
- Using a cellular phone to talk, text, check maps or switch playlists
- Eating (there may not be a licence suspension, but the RCMP warn you could be fined or given six demerits depending on the food)
- Reading books or documents
- Typing a destination into the GPS
Distracted driving is not limited to just the the use of electronics, as most people assume. Doing any of the aforementioned activities while behind the wheel makes you guilty of distracted driving, even if you’re on the highway or stopped at a red light.
What you can use, however, are:
- Hands-free devices (e.g. Bluetooth), but only to turn it on and off
- Mounted devices, as long as they are secured properly
These rules were enforced as of August 31, 2017, but more restrictions may have been added by then (e.g., doing makeup).
According to provincial road statistics, deaths from collisions have doubled since 2000. One person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every half hour, and drivers using their phones are four times more likely to crash.