If you’re reading this while driving, stop reading and throw your phone in the rear seat of your vehicle.
There is absolutely no reason to text/read while driving. None. Zero. Period. Full stop. 30. XXX.
Thankfully, as of January 1st, 2019, Ontario’s laws on distracted driving are becoming much more severe with much harsher punishments.
A 3 day suspension and a $1,000 fine for your first offence
A 7 day suspension and a $2,000 fine for your second offence
A 30 days suspension, a $3,000 fine, and 6 demerit points for 3 or more offences
Your insurance will skyrocket and if you’re a repeat offender, good luck getting affordable (or any) auto insurance at all.
If you’re charged with using a handheld device while driving it’s a minor conviction going on your driving record for 3 (three) years, which is the equivalent of getting a speeding ticket for going below 50 km/h.
If you cause a collision while using a handheld device, you could also be slammed with careless driving, which is a severely serious offence.
Why the not-so-pleasant tone of this article?
This is why - Ontario data on collisions from 2013 show:
one person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every half hour
a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road
Distracted driving is classified as doing the following while driving, regardless if you’re in motion or stopped at a red light/stop sign:
Using a hand-held communication device (your phone) to talk (without Bluetooth hands free) and or text, which includes posting to your social media account
Checking/entering information into your map application on your smartphone
Choosing/changing a playlist
Using electronic entertainment devices (DVD player, e-reader)
Reading books or documents
Importantly, just holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law.
The “but Officer, I wasn’t actually driving, I was stopped at a light/stop sign/in traffic” excuse certainly will not be received well.
Another important point to mention is that if you’ve got a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and convicted of distracted driving, you’re subject to the same fines as drivers with A to G licences but will not receive any demerit points.
But it’s far worse because if you fall into the aforementioned categories, you’re going to get nailed with:
A 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
A 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
Cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System for a third conviction
If you’re in that much of an urgent situation to text someone/post to your social media account/put info into a map application/eat/read, pull over somewhere safe (parking lot, side street, not a high traffic road) shut off your car fully and do whatever it is you need to do.