This story was originally published on September 24.
We've all heard it before, don't text and drive. And it's actually really good advice that every single person needs to be following. But, texting behind the wheel isn't the only form of distracted driving.
According to the RCMP, there are a number of things that can distract you from the road when you're driving a car, leading to fatal crashes, and people can and probably have been charged for all of these.
1. Eating & Drinking
We are all guilty of it. Eating a snack or drinking your coffee while driving is way too easy to do, especially with drive-thrus making it so you can get a four-course meal without having to even put your car in park. Despite how easy it is, the RCMP says it still counts as being distracted.
2. Putting On Makeup
If you're running late in the morning, it can be tempting to throw on some mascara or lipstick while behind the wheel. But, it's in everyone's best interest to resist the temptation because personal grooming and putting on makeup both count as distracted driving.
3. Talking To Passengers
This one is a little tricky to determine, but in some cases, talking to passengers can count as distracted driving. If your passengers are too loud or you are looking away from the road to talk to them, then it is technically considered being distracted and can be unsafe. It's best to keep your eyes on the road while you chat.
4. Reaching For Something In The Car
By this point, it should be pretty clear that anything that takes your eyes off the road is considered distracted driving. Reaching for something on the floor or in the back seat counts as distracted driving since it pulls your focus from the road and could lead to involuntary moves like turning the wheel when you lean for something.
5. Listening To Music Too Loud
Your eyes aren't the only sense involved in driving, you should be using your ears to drive too. And because of that, listening to music that's way too loud can be distracting. This makes sense if you think about it because if you can't hear a police siren or other horn behind you, it could become a big issue.
There are already a lot of rules surrounding smoking and driving, which include things like smoking with kids in the car. But, the RCMP also says that you shouldn't be smoking and driving at all. Since lighting and then smoking a cigarette involves taking at least one of your hands off the wheel, it's considered distracted driving.
Even more important is that once marijuana is legal, you should never smoke and drive or drive while high, since that is impaired driving, and is both illegal and dangerous.
7. Driving With Your Pet In Your Lap
This one is borderline distracted driving because having your dog in your lap can be a distraction. But, police have also said that it falls under another law as well - careless driving. Having a pet in the front seat is both a distraction and considered crowding the front seat which is also illegal so just leave them in the back and on a leash or in a crate if you have to.
The fines for distracted driving can vary across the country. You can be charged hundreds of dollars and in some provinces like Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, and BC you can even be penalized with demerit points.
There are some exceptions to distracted driving laws in Canada. For example, you are allowed to use a phone to call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency, but they still advise you to pull over first. You are also allowed to look at a GPS as long as it is hands-free and you aren't programming it while driving.