Ontario's new law governing distracted driving has now been passed by the legislature and is now awaiting Royal Ascent. Soon it will be law. The laws are desperately trying to play catch up with twenty years of technology and bad habits that we as middle-aged drivers have acquired, and that newer drivers have grown up with.
Distracted driving includes:
“Using your phone to talk, text, check maps or choose a playlist while you’re behind the wheel all count as distracted driving – and they put you and others at risk.
Other activities like eating, reading or typing a destination into a GPS are also dangerous when you’re behind the wheel.” Province of Ontario
It doesn’t matter if you’re on a highway or stopped at a red light – distracted driving could cost you.”
In Toronto alone in 2016, distracted driving was to blame for almost 7500 crashed of which eight involved fatalities and 2600 involved personal injury. Since 2000 the number of deaths caused by distracted drivers has more than double. According to the Province of Ontario
One person is injured every ½ hour from a distracted driving crash
Drivers using a phone are four times more likely to crash than drivers who are focussed on the road
We’ve covered the new rules that are on their way on my blog post and you can re-read them here.
The new rules will give police the authority to automatically suspend a drivers licence for convicted distracted drivers. The fines for distracted driving will increase form a maximum of $1000 to $2000 for a second conviction, and up to $3000 for subsequent convictions. Licence suspensions will occur immediately for 3 days for a first offence, seven for the second offence, and 30 days for the third and subsequent convictions. Police will NOT be able to seize a licence at the roadside though. Only judges will be able to take licences and only after the driver is found guilty in court.
You can read the news release from the province on distracted driving below.
Ontario Cracking Down on Careless and Distracted Driving with Tough New Penalties
Province Taking Action to Keep Pedestrians, Cyclists and Drivers Safe
September 20, 2017 9:00 A.M.
Ontario plans to crack down on careless and distracted driving with tough new rules and penalties that would help improve road safety and keep the most vulnerable road users - including pedestrians and cyclists - safe.
Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon, were in Toronto today to announce the tough new road-safety measures. They were joined by Han Dong, MPP for Trinity-Spadina.
The province plans to introduce new legislation this fall that, if passed, would help protect pedestrians and cyclists and reduce the number of people killed or injured by impaired, distracted and dangerous drivers. The proposed measures include:
A new offence for careless driving causing death or bodily harm with penalties that include fines, licence suspension and imprisonment
Tougher penalties for distracted driving, such as using a cellphone while operating a vehicle, including higher fines, more demerit points, and license suspensions
Increased penalties for drivers who fail to yield for pedestrians and escalating fines for drivers who are convicted of multiple pedestrian-related offences within a five-year window
Expanding the use of rear flashing blue lights for enforcement and emergency vehicles.
In addition, the province is consulting on the use of cameras on school buses that capture the offence of illegally passing a school bus, so that this evidence can be admitted into court without a witness.
For 16 years in a row, Ontario's roads have been ranked either first or second safest in North America, but more can still be done. These strong measures add to recently-announced tough new penalties for those who drive under the influence of drugs, including cannabis.
Keeping Ontario's roads safe is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.
On average, one person is killed on Ontario’s roads every 17 hours. In 2014, pedestrians and cyclists made up approximately 25 per cent of Ontario’s road fatalities.
While drunk driving remains in the top-five killers on Ontario’s roads, the province’s most recent roadside survey found that drivers who tested positive for drugs were more than twice the number who tested positive for alcohol.
The proposed legislation builds on existing measures Ontario has introduced to improve road safety including tougher impaired, distracted and street racing laws.
In May Ontario passed legislation to protect the most vulnerable such as pedestrians and cyclists, by giving municipalities more tools to address speeding. These tools include the ability to set reduced default speed limits and use automated speed-enforcement systems on roads with speed limits below 80 km/h that are designated as community safety zones or in school zones.
In June 2015, Ontario passed legislation to toughen penalties for offences such as distracted driving.
The Ministry of Transportation hosted a road safety symposium in June with municipalities and many road safety partners to discuss a broad range of road safety concerns that helped shape the government’s proposed actions to help to save lives on Ontario’s roads.