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The Realities of Distracted Driving in Ontario

high risk auto insurance

We all know the dangers of distracted driving.

 Yet, it continues to be a hot topic and doing what we can to address this extremely hazardous habit is a strong focus in our province. And for good reason – a recent study has shown that despite efforts to mitigate driving distracted, this behaviour continues to rise.

Distracted driving by the numbers

The March 2019 study by Desjardins General Insurance (source: Canadian Underwriter) revealed the following:

  • 53% of respondents admitted to being distracted by their cell phones while driving at least once. This is up from the 38% reported the previous year.
  • 93% said that they either never or rarely drive distracted by a cellphone.
  • 84% claimed that they either always or often saw other drivers that were distracted by their phones.

Moves against distracted driving in Ontario

In Ontario, many steps have been taken to address distracted driving:

~ It is actually against the law to touch a cell phone or other electronic device while driving in the province.

~ Fines for being caught are STEEP. 5 years ago, the minimum fine for distracted driving was $60. As of January 1, 2019, this went up to $500 for a first time offence, which also includes the possibility of a 3-day licence suspension. And if you’re caught for a second time, you could face a one-week suspension of your licence, with a 30-day suspension possible for repeat offenders.

~ Maximum fines also carry a lot of weight – $1,000 for a first offence, $2,000 for a second and $3,000 for a third.

~ In addition to the increases in fines, police have also upped their game by setting up roadside surveillance in unmarked commercial vehicles that are high enough to allow the officer to easily see into other cars on the road and what drivers are doing. If a distracted driving infraction is witnessed, a patrol car is called in to pull over the offender.

~ The Ontario Provincial Police is also using aircraft and helicopters, using clues such as varying speeds to determine where distracted driving may be occurring.

In addition to the fines mentioned above, another financial repercussion of distracted driving is the effect on one’s auto insurance rates. If you are convicted with careless or dangerous driving, you may find yourself in the high risk category, which significantly impacts how much you will pay for auto insurance.  

The problem of distracted driving goes beyond auto insurance premiums and avoiding a high risk driver classification. It is about the responsibility of keeping yourself and others safe on the road.

To learn more about being a high risk driver in Ontario, check out some of our resources on the blog:

7 Things You Need to Know as a High Risk Driver in Ontario

~ What You Need to Know About High Risk Auto Insurance

~ Insurance Terms Defined – High Risk Driver

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