Distracted Driving in Toronto and Ontario

Distracted Driving in Toronto and Ontario
Because of the spike in distracted driving in Ontario, personal injury lawyers have seen many clients with injuries caused by drivers who weren’t giving their full attention to the road.
Article Written By: Glenna M.
Distracted Driving in Toronto and Ontario 
In 2016, distracted driving was to blame for 7,435 automobile accidents in Toronto. Of those collisions, eight were fatal, 2,642 caused injury and 4,785 were responsible for property damage. Provincial statistics show that deaths due to distracted driving have doubled since 2000; in fact, one person is injured in a distracted-driving collision in Ontario every half hour!


The Ontario Provincial Police report that distracted driving was the cause of more deaths on provincial highways than any other factor, including speeding or impaired driving. Distracted driving has contributed to 60+ accidental deaths each year for the past several years -- OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes has called it “the most life-threatening driver behaviour on our roads.”


What exactly is distracted driving? The term has been around for many years, and refers to anything that distracts a driver from keeping his/her focus on the road. “Distracted driving” might include any number of things, from eating or drinking while driving, tending to children or pets, adjusting air conditioning levels, or putting on makeup. The most common reason for driver distraction, however, is the cellphone or hand-held device. Statistics show that a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver who is giving full attention to the road. It is actually illegal in Ontario to merely hold a phone or electronic entertainment device while driving. The only devices permitted to be used are:

  • A hands-free (Bluetooth) device, which may be turned on or off.
  • A mounted device such as a GPS as long as it does not move around while driving.

Tough New Penalties

In light of the scope of the problem, Ontario lawmakers have brought in new penalties for drivers convicted of distracted driving that include licence suspensions and substantial fines. (Depending on the circumstances, drivers might also be charged with careless or dangerous driving – offences that often carry jail terms.)


The penalties vary according to the class of licence, the circumstances, and the driver’s record. Fines for distracted driving have increased from a maximum of $1,000 up to $2,000 on a second conviction, and up to $3,000 for third or subsequent incidents. Drivers receive six demerit points for multiple offences. Licence suspension is automatic: three days on a first offence, seven days after two convictions, and 30 days for third and further convictions. Fines and suspensions occur after conviction, not at the roadside.


With these new penalties in place, Ontario drivers will have to make some tough decisions regarding those addictive smartphones! One way to break yourself of the habit of texting or talking on the phone while driving is to turn your phone off and put it away before you even turn on the ignition. That way, it can’t be an issue. You can also turn off notifications and/or silence the phone and place it in the glove compartment until you reach your destination. You can even install an app that will respond to incoming calls or texts with a message that lets your friends know that you’re driving, and that you’ll return their message once you reach your destination. If you are travelling with a companion, you could ask him/her to monitor your calls and return messages, or you could find a safe area where you can pull over to use the phone.


Injured by a Distracted Driver

Because of the spike in distracted driving in Ontario, personal injury lawyers have seen many clients with injuries caused by drivers who weren’t giving their full attention to the road. If you’ve been injured in an accident where distracted driving was a factor, you should contact a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. A lawyer experienced with this type of case can look at the evidence and advise you as to your options.


Before visiting a lawyer, gather as much information as possible regarding the incident. Notify police immediately, and emergency medical services if necessary. Visit an emergency room and/or your doctor as soon as you can following the accident, and ask for a thorough workup and documentation of all symptoms and wounds that includes close-up photos of your injuries. Request x-rays or scans of areas that are causing pain; you may have hidden injuries. Follow any medical recommendations that are made, and visit the doctor for regular follow-ups.


If you or someone in your vehicle is able, document the accident scene; take photos of the vehicles before they are moved if it is safe to do so. Get complete contact information from each person involved in the accident, along with the information from their insurer and their vehicle registration. Get contact information from any witnesses, too.


Before speaking to any insurer or posting on social media, meet with a personal injury lawyer. First consultations are generally free, but the advice you get could be priceless.