Ontario is leading the way with Canada’s toughest distracted driving laws to date geared at finally impacting the never-ending cycle of deaths and injuries.
Bill 174 that was passed on December 12, 2017 went into effect on January 1, 2019 amending the Highway Traffic Act.
Within this Bill is the section related to penalties for interacting with display screens visible to the driver, or for holding a handheld wireless communication device.
The following are some true or false statements to help navigate some of the common misconceptions around this significant change designed to change driver habits.
Distracted driving laws do not apply if you are at a red light
False: Distracted driving penalties are the same if you are driving on a busy street or stopped at an intersection. The only safe option to avoid a fine is to not touch your mobile device any time you are in a motor vehicle.
G1 and G2 drivers face harsher penalties than a G driver.
True: If you are a less experienced G1 or G2 driver your penalties are significantly increased. These drivers face the same fines as a G driver, but will see longer licence suspensions. A first time offence is a 30-day suspension, getting caught twice will triple the suspension time to 90- days and getting caught a third time may result in revoking a licence.
Police can suspend your licence on the spot
False: Penalties for distracted driving do not happen on the spot, but that doesn’t mean you dodged a suspension. The case will go to court and, if convicted, the penalty can be all, or part, of the following: $1,000 fine; three-day licence suspension; and three demerit points.
Typing into a securely mounted GPS is legal
False: While using a securely mounted GPS in your car is allowed, you must input the required information before you start driving. Make sure to do so when you are lawfully parked or pulled over at the side of the road.
Calling 911 is allowed while driving
True: If it is a dire emergency you are allowed to call 911 while driving according to the Ministry of Transportation Ontario website however it is recommended that you pull over