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Dangers of Distracted Driving in Toronto

by Salvatore Grillo

Salvatore Grillo

Research shows that distracted driving can be as dangerous as DUI. You are also 23 times more likely to crash if you text and drive.

Most of us understand that it is prohibited by law to use phones while driving, but there are tons of others things you shouldn’t do. For instance, eating and texting, reading, talking to the passengers, and more. This article will discuss things you shouldn’t be doing while driving and the penalties you can face when caught.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving in Toronto involves more than using your phone while driving. It happens when any distraction impairs your judgment and hinders you from safe driving.

Some examples of driving while distracted include:

  • Using a mobile phone (talking or texting, surfing the internet)
  • Programming the GPS
  • Reading maps or books
  • Watching videos
  • Drinking and eating
  • Vaping and smoking cigarettes
  • Grooming (shaving or cleaning teeth and applying make-up)
  • Making adjustments to the radio
  • Loud music
  • Chatting with fellow passengers

While distracted driving is against the law in all of Canada’s provinces and territories, each adheres to its guidelines, which means that penalties may differ significantly. Driving while distracted could result in fines, demerit points, or even license suspensions based on where you reside.

Distracted Driving Laws and Penalties in Toronto

Since 2000, the number of deaths caused by distracted driving has increased tremendously. To curb this risky practice, the provincial governments have instituted strict penalties, such as suspension of the license for three days, demerit points, and a substantial fine on the first offence.

The distracted driving-related law is mainly focused on the use of mobile phones while driving. It’s not legal to use your mobile phone or any other handheld gadget when driving or stopping at an intersection with a red light. The only way to use your phone is to dial 911 in an emergency. You’re not also allowed to use devices such as tablets or portable gaming consoles. You can also not watch videos on on-screen displays or program your GPS (except via speaking commands).

However, you can use a hands-free wireless device using an earpiece or Bluetooth. It’s also permitted to check the GPS display screen to ensure it’s integrated with your car’s dashboard or securely fixed to the dashboard.

Toronto’s distracted driving laws don’t cover consuming alcohol, eating, smoking, grooming, reading, and picking up items. However, you could be charged with reckless driving if police believe that your driving capability is impaired due to these distractions.

The distracted driving penalties are severe. Your penalties will increase gradually with each conviction if you hold a driver’s license. You can expect three demerit points, a $1000 fine, and license suspension for three days if you are a first-time offender. On the other hand, the second offence calls for six demerit points, a $2000 fine, and license suspension for seven days. The third offence demands six demerit points, a $3000 fine, and a license suspension for 30 days.

Suppose you are convicted of distracted driving as a novice driver. In that case, you will be charged fines as drivers with A to G licenses, but you will be suspended for longer periods instead of receiving demerit points.

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Reprinted with permission of Lexology.com