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Ontario considers tougher distracted driving sanctions for cell phone use

Distracted driving penalties will likely toughen up this fall


texting cell by steering wheel

We’ve all seen it multiple times – a driver fiddling with their cell phone while behind the wheel. Distracted driving (specifically cell phone use while driving) has become a huge issue in recent years and is responsible for many car accidents and deaths across the country. According to Alberta Transportation, distracted drivers are three times more likely to get into an accident than their focused counterparts.

Distracted driving has become the number one killer of people in car accidents

The Ontario Provincial Police report that in 2013, 78 people died in car accidents where distracted driving was a factor. Compare that to 57 deaths in impaired driving-related car accidents and 44 deaths in speeding-related car accidents. In 2013, the Ontario Provincial Police laid 19,000 distracted driving charges. This is an increase of 3,000 from 2012. Toronto Police laid a whopping 55,000 distracted driving charges between 2010 and 2012 and cite cell phone use while driving as a factor in at least three car accident deaths.

The current penalty structure is not discouraging drivers from using their cell phones while driving. According to the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, 46% of grade 12 students admitted to texting while driving on at least one occasion.  While public awareness campaigns have brought attention to the cell phone use while driving issue, it has not decreased this dangerous and potentially fatal behaviour.

The current penalty for cell phone use while driving is a $280 fine and no demerit points. This came into effect in February 2013 after a judicial order of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice Annemarie Bonkalo, who recognized that distracted driving is responsible for many car accidents. The previous fine was merely $155.

Distracted driving fines set to increase

This week, Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced that a bill to change the law regarding distracted driving will be tabled this fall. This bill would significantly stiffen penalties for distracted driving. The proposed bill would increase fines to range between $300 and $1,000 and add three demerit points per infraction. This is specifically to target cell phone use while driving behind the wheel. With the addition of demerit points, perhaps a reduction in cell phone use while driving will be achieved.

If you or a loved one has been the victim injured in a car accident where distracted driving or cell phone use was a factor, you have legal rights.  Please contact our Oakville car accident law firm for more information about personal injury sustained due to distracted driving.


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