"Safety is our top priority, [and legislation] allows the province to address unsafe driving behaviours, including careless driving and impaired driving with tough new rules and penalties that will help improve road safety." - Jeff Yurek, Ontario's minister of transportation.
Once the new legislation, passed under the previous Liberal government, takes effect, Ontario will have the toughest penalties for repeat distracted driving convictions.
Drivers convicted of distracted driving under the new laws will be punished with a licence suspension, a hefty fine and demerit points. The severity of the punishment increases with the number of subsequent offences committed:
- First offence: 3 days suspension and $1,000 fine
- Second offence: 7 days suspension and $2,000 fine
- Three or more offences: 30 days suspension, $3,000 fine and six demerit points.
Distracted Driving Definitions Have Also Changed
Distracted driving is no longer limited to just texting and making phone calls.
The Government of Ontario has posted a list of activities that counts as distracted driving and it includes anything from simply holding an electronic device in one's hand to eating while behind the wheel.
Anything that causes a driver to be less focused on the road.
- 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 continues to be a serious issue, but if we want Ontario’s roads to be among the safest in North America then it’s a step in the right direction.