Distracted driving is now responsible for more deaths than drunk driving in Ontario. Given that fact, police everywhere in the province are taking a harder line when it comes to distracted drivers.
Stiffer distracted driving penalties took effect on January 1, 2019. These penalties include fine increases up to $1,000, three demerit points for a first offence and a three-day licence suspension. The penalties rise for subsequent convictions.
Many drivers are still unaware about what constitutes distracted driving. You can use any device that you do not touch, hold or manipulate while driving, other than to activate or deactivate it. Actions like dialing or scrolling through contacts are not allowed.
What can be used:
• A cellphone with an earpiece, headset or Bluetooth device using voice-activated dialing only to activate or deactivate the “hands-free function” and only if the device is mounted or secured. Actions like dialing or scrolling through contacts are not allowed.
• A GPS screen is permitted provided the screen is mounted on the dashboard or windshield, but you must put in the required information before you start driving.
• A portable media player connected to the vehicle’s sound system is allowed, but you must activate the playlist before driving.
• Display screens built into the vehicle and used for safety reasons and ignition interlock devices are permitted.
With the exception of a call to police, fire department or emergency medical services, a driver must be pulled off the roadway and not impeding traffic to use a device.
It is dangerous to stop on the shoulder of a 400-series highway and drivers are prohibited from pulling off a designated 400-series highway and parking for a reason other than an emergency. -CINEWS