MVA Insurers

One Lawyer Warns Motorists About the Dangers of Distracted Driving


October 3, 2022 from Howie, Sacks & Henry


A partner at Howie, Sacks & Henry recounts how they were shocked to observe many motorists using their cell phones while driving during a summer road trip. They even noticed someone doing cosmetics while driving. Driving is a difficult activity that calls for complete awareness of your surroundings and the capacity to act rapidly in response to changes in the road.


According to a study from the Canadian Automobile Association, distracted driving is a serious issue in Ontario and can result from anything that causes a driver to lose focus. Distracted driving can have catastrophic repercussions, result in severe injuries, and, regrettably, even result in fatalities. If you are stopped by the authorities, you can also face substantial fines and, obviously, a rise in your insurance rates.


The term “distracted driving” encompasses much more than just using a cell phone while driving. For instance, many people may become distracted while modifying in-car features or settings as a result of the development of huge screen-operated dashboard consoles in vehicles. Even using iPads and portable gaming equipment while driving has been reported by drivers.


Although many motorists believe that performing these things while waiting at a stop sign is “safe,” a driver should never divert their attention while in traffic, regardless of their speed. Accidents or emergencies can arise suddenly, and even a little diversion might have devastating consequences.


In Ontario, the penalties for driving while distracted are fairly harsh. A $615 fine, the accrual of three demerit points, a three-day licence suspension, and the accumulation of demerit points are the penalties for a first violation. The fine might go up to $1,000.00 if the case goes to court and is contested. A second infraction carries a fine of up to $2,000 and six penalty points. Your credit report may be affected for up to seven years by fines. If you receive a third conviction, your licence will be revoked, necessitating that you start the province’s series of graduated examinations all over again in order to obtain your G licence.


Here are some common causes of distracted driving, along with tips for staying focused:


You should always have a clear idea of where you are going before you even get in your vehicle. Know your whole route. If you require the use of a GPS, be sure to program your destination before you set off. If you are inclined to use your phone or other device to listen to podcasts or music playlists, set it up before you depart. If in the middle of your trip you want to change something, pull off the road and do so while you are parked safely out of traffic.


For those who cannot resist answering a phone call or text message when the phone rings, set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” when you set out. If a text or call comes in while you are driving, the phone will advise the other person accordingly. You can return the call or text when you arrive at your destination.


The presence of other people or objects in your car can also distract you while driving. All loose items need to be safely tucked away. If a loose object falls, it may confuse the driver’s vision or, worse, it may tangle with their feet or tempt them to reach for it.


People enjoy taking their animals on vacation. All pets must be safely restrained in the rear seat of the car. They shouldn’t be free to move around the car, and you shouldn’t encourage them to sit on your lap while you’re driving because that would make it difficult to handle the steering wheel safely. Our human partners can occasionally be the source of the distraction. Do not be afraid to let your passengers know that you will need to tune out of the discussion if it becomes too entertaining for you to concentrate on the road.


Another frequent incidence is driving while consuming alcohol or food. Everyone engaging in it does not automatically render it not distracting. It’s best to avoid even sipping coffee while driving, but if you must, make sure your beverage is in a decent cup with a tight cover that can be safely fastened in a handy cupholder (not between your legs). Never eat while operating a vehicle. Simply while the most likely charge will be careless or dangerous driving, which are both serious offences, behaviours including smoking, personal grooming, listening to music, or simply talking to a passenger, can all result in a charge of distracted driving if one’s driving is plainly impaired.


Although it is accepted in society that driving while intoxicated is unacceptable, there does not appear to be quite the same stigma attached to distracted driving, despite the fact that it may be just as lethal. Sadly, it still occurs much too frequently because people do not perceive it as being as risky as driving while intoxicated. The author of the article believes that the fines ought to be raised stating, “Driving is a privilege in Ontario not a right. Do not abuse it.”.





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