Distracted Driving Laws in Toronto

Edited by Admin

Distracted Driving

It’s the morning drive. You break up a sibling squabble between the kids before you drop them at their school. You whiz through the Timmy’s drive-thru and you eat your breakfast BLT and drink your double-double in the car. A toonie falls on the floor and you pick it up. You turn the music up loud, toggling from playlist to playlist to find one that suits your mood. You check the Waze app to find a less congested route. You light a cigarette, answer a text, adjust the heat, and apply some mascara. You call your boss to tell her you’ll be a bit late for the meeting. You are a distracted driver.


We are all distracted drivers these days. The long commutes, the many gadgets and car features – the temptation is almost irresistible. 33% of drivers, for example, admit to texting while stopped at a red light, despite knowing that constitutes unacceptable behaviour. Yet the stats about distracted driving are horrifying. The Canadian Automobile Association reports that:

  • Drivers who look at their cell phones are eight times more likely to be involved in a collision. Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash. Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident compared to a non-distracted driver!
  • About 26% of all crashes involve phone use, including hands-free phone use.
  • More than half of teens involved in moderate to severe collisions were distracted.
  • 80% of collisions and 65% of near crashes have some form of driver inattention as contributing factors.
  • Driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle collisions in North America each year.
  • In 2016, 65 people were killed in OPP-investigated crashes where inattentive drivers were involved — more than drinking and driving, speeding or collisions where people were not wearing seatbelts.

And the Globe and Mail reports that one in every four fatal crashes in Canada involves distracted driving. “It doesn’t seem to be going down,” said Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. “Generally, it’s still about 25 per cent of fatals.”


As well as the human cost, distracted driving has an economic dimension. Would you believe that economic losses caused by MVA-related health care costs (as well as lost productivity) are valued at approximately 1% of Canada’s GDP? That’s at least $10 billion every year. It’s obvious that Canada has a distracted driving problem.


New Laws

On January 1 of this year, Ontario increased penalties for distracted driving. These include a fine of up to $1,000 – more than double the previous fine amount. In addition to the fine, distracted drivers with A to G licences will receive a three-day licence suspension and three demerit points for a first conviction. Drivers with more than one distracted driving conviction will face a fine of up to $2,000, a seven-day licence suspension and six demerit points, while motorists who have been caught driving distracted more than two times will pay a fine of up to $3,000 and lose their license for 30 days.


Novice drivers will face a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction, a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction, and licence cancellation for a third conviction. These are now the toughest penalties for repeat offenders in Canada. Constable Sean Ralph of the Ontario Provincial Police says that distracted driving should be considered a major infraction, akin to impaired driving. Constable Ralph says that police are hoping to change driver behaviour through enforcement of these new laws.


Avoiding Distraction

Some drivers feel that if they’re using hands-free calling or Siri that they are not distracted. But even though you’re not looking at the device, distraction is still present – your brain is distracted. Here are some ways to avoid being distracted while driving:

  • Before you leave: Set all of your GPS destinations, and look at any maps or directions you think you may need. Record a message or set an app that will let anyone trying to contact you on your cell phone know that you’re driving and will return their call or text when you arrive at your destination. Make sure that all loose objects are secured. Make sure small children are properly secured in car seats, and that they have everything they need. Allow plenty of travel time.


  • While driving: Turn your phone off (or put it on airplane mode) before getting into the car. Put it into the glove compartment or in a bag on the back seat, or let a passenger take over its use for the duration of the trip. Don’t eat or groom while driving. Keep two hands on the wheel at all times, and your eyes on the road.

Canada has a distracted-driver problem. Be part of the solution.