Distracted Driving

A woman operating her cellphone while driving.

Buckle Up, it's the law.

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Most people would never drink and drive, but like alcohol, distractions can impair driving.

You can Prevent Distracted Driving - check out the Leave the Phone Alone campaign.

The Provincial Government's distracted driving legislation, (Bill 118 and Ontario Regulation 366/09) took effect on October 26, 2009, which made it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held devices.

Quick Facts:

  • Drivers found using any hand-held device can face fines of up to $500. Police may also continue to charge a driver with careless driving when not paying full attention to the driving task. If convicted of careless driving, a driver will automatically receive six demerit points, fines up to $1000 and a possible jail term of six months. In some cases, a driver's license may be suspended for up to two years. This is one of Ontario's toughest rules of the road.
  • Just looking away from the road for two seconds doubles a driver's odds for being involved in a collision.

A study by the University of Carolina Highway Safety Research Center found there are different distractions for different age groups:

  • Younger drivers are more likely to get distracted by changing or surfing through their music
  • Drivers in their 30s are more often distracted by young kids in the car,  
  • Older drivers are often distracted by something outside the vehicle.
  • Drivers of police department vehicles, fire department vehicles and ambulances are exempt in the legislation from the prohibition on hand-held use. Regulation limits exemption so that it applies only while in performance of their duties.
  • The legislation allows for drivers to use communication devices to call 911 while in motor vehicles. Drivers are also exempt if they are pulled off the roadway and are not impeding traffic and not illegally parked.

About Bill 118 - Distracted Driving (often referred to as the "cell phone ban")

The legislation makes it clear that drivers are forbidden from:

  • using hand-held communication devices (i.e. cellphones, unsecured GPS, hand-held radios,etc) and hand-held electronic entertainment equipment (music or movie players, ebooks etc);
  • dialing, texting, web surfing or emailing etc.;
  • Programming directions and/or information into a GPS device;
  • Having display screens visible to the driver such as tablets, DVD players, laptop computers, etc. Any driving-related display screens must be placed securely in, mounted to the vehicle so that the device does not move while the car is in motion. Under the new law, drivers will be allowed to use:
    • Hands-free communication devices with an earpiece, headphone, speakerphone or bluetooth device.
    • Display screens of GPS units that are in hands-free mode, and

    • Display screens used in commercial vehicles to track location and provide information on cargo delivery, passenger pick-up or operational information from a dispatcher or control centre, and

    • Display screens for collision avoidance systems and display screens for providing the immediate environment of the vehicle and screens that provide information on weather and road conditions.