New driving rules aim to crack down on distracted driving

Governments everywhere are realizing that distracted driving might be worse than impaired driving and Canadian drivers better get off their phones and take notice.
Governments everywhere are realizing that distracted driving might be worse than impaired driving and Canadian drivers better get off their phones and take notice.

New driving rules aim to crack down on distracted driving

If you live in Ontario and feel the compelling need to text and drive in 2019, it is going to cost you big time if you are caught.

Fines will rise to a whopping $1,000 for a first conviction under Ontario’s new distracted-driving rules — which go into effect on Jan. 1 — and you will receive three demerit points and a three-day driver’s licence suspension, according to the Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation website.

Penalties rise for each conviction and a third strike will equal a $3,000 fine, six more demerit points and a 30-day suspension.

According to OPP Const. Roop Sandhu, distracted driving in Ontario accounts for more deaths than did drug and alcohol-related accidents: 83 to 46, he told CKWS News.

“For the past four years on OPP-patrolled roads, inattentive driving (while using) electronic devices has been the leading cause of the majority of fatalities in Ontario,” said Sandhu.

But Ontario is not the only province hoping to crack down on bad drivers. In Nova Scotia, the province is in the final stages of a new motor vehicles act, which hadn’t been fully updated since the 1920s, according to Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines.

“The new Traffic Safety Act will enable us to quickly address the more technical and day-to-day issues that arise in the administration of road safety,” he said.

Under the proposed new rules, so-called “vulnerable” persons who are injured by a driver, will invoke a licence suspension of six months.

“That will raise the profile and make sure that drivers are respectful of the vulnerable road users,” Hines told the Canadian Press. Vulnerable persons are those who must be beside roads such as construction workers and emergency personnel.

The law also makes it an offence to simply hold a device and it removes the onus from police to prove that drivers were actually using their device. 

"We are aware of a few occasions where the Crown was having difficulty because police would have to go to court and prove the fact that the person was texting," said Paul Arsenault, director of special projects at Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

In B.C., distracted drivers will have to pay more in insurance if they are caught.

“On a first infraction, these points will also result in a driver paying a further $175 ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium, for a total of $543 for a first infraction,” according to a B.C. government website.

“Drivers with two or more convictions for the use of electronics devices while driving over a three-year period could pay as much as $2,000 in penalties, an increase of $740, in addition to their regular vehicle insurance premium.”

In Manitoba, the penalty for distracted driving is instantaneous.

“A police officer in Manitoba can take away your driver’s licence if you are charged with a cellphone use ticket. The way it works is the officer seizes your licence and issues you a temporary licence so that you can drive yourself home (instead of the car being towed and impounded). After the temporary period ends, then it is against the law for you to drive for the next three days,” wrote Michael Dyck, partner at Rees & Dyck Criminal Defence in Winnipeg.

Governments everywhere are realizing that distracted driving might be worse than impaired driving and Canadian drivers better get off their phones and take notice.

 

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