Feds Pushing Provinces to Stiffen Distracted Driving Laws

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Almost one in three car accidents involving a major injury in Canada is now attributed to distracted driving. This figure is finally beginning to ring alarm bells not only with insurance companies, the police, and the victims of these personal injuries, but also the federal government.

All provinces in Canada currently have distracted driving laws, but the penalties vary quite a lot from province to province. They range from a very stiff $500-$1200 fine with 5 demerit points, while Quebec, Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario, and the Yukon assess only 3 demerit points. Fines across Canada vary from a low of $172.50 in New Brunswick to a high of $1200 in PEI.

We must take the notion seriously that driving while distracted (DWD) may be the new DUI. Some suggest that the only real way to stop the scourge of distracted driving due to technology use is to make it a criminal code offence, others maintain that the technology to disable tech use in cars is easy to install in cars and should be required by law. Others maintain that public education is the way to go.

Did you know:

  1. Distracted driving is more common than impaired driving.
  2. You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash while texting.
  3. You are 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash while talking on a hands free/Bluetooth phone while driving.
  4. Distracted drivers don’t process up to 50% of what they see.
  5. 80% of crashes and 65% of near crashes involve some driver inattention within three seconds of the incident.

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau wants to have more focus placed on the point when distracted driving becomes dangerous driving, and to have those individuals charged and punished under the much more serious offence. Dangerous driving can result in jail time. If personal injury is involved it can result in up to 10 years in prison, a criminal record, and fine. Dangerous driving resulting in death can result in prison sentences of up to 14 years. Hand in hand with the examination of the DWD/Dangerous Driving line, will be the drive to have courts take DWD and DUI much more seriously than it does currently.

Police forces can easily track to activity of any driver’s phone after an accident by obtaining a warrant for the phone and associated data usage from the carrier. Combined with witness testimony, and evidence from onboard computers it becomes much more difficult to lie to the courts.

It really comes down to the fundamental question of why can’t people simply put their phones down?

Strategies to avoid phone use while driving:

  1. Put your phone on airplane mode
  2. Put your phone in the trunk
  3. Put your phone on silent mode
  4. Download an app that disables your phone while you are driving.