Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced on Wednesday the Liberal government will be introducing legislation this fall, which would help significantly limit careless and distracted driving and punish deadly drivers.
This new legislation will include fines between $2,000 and $50,000 up to two years of jail time, license suspension of up to five years and six demerit points for careless drivers who cause death or serious injuries.
In addition, penalties for distracted driving such as using a hand-held cellphone while driving will include various fines ranging from $500 to $3,000, depending on whether it’s a first, second or third offence. After three offences, there would be a license cancellation.
Provincial drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians will see increased fines as well from a maximum of $500 up to $1,000.
Del Duca says Ontario will have the strictest penalties within the Highway Traffic Act.
How to Avoid Distracted Driving
No matter how busy you are, it is crucial to pay attention to your surroundings while driving. With this new legislation, it’s best to evade distracted driving altogether. Here are some tips on how you can avoid distracted driving and drive more safely:
1. No multitasking in the car
Multitasking is helpful, but it should not be tested while you are in the driver’s seat. Eating, answering texts and searching for good music can all be done before you start to drive or even at home. It’s important to concentrate on driving and be aware of other drivers around you.
2. Pull over
If you need to make an emergency phone call, pull over to the right shoulder of the road. If you have Bluetooth connectivity in your vehicle, it’s a good idea to pull over anyway, you don’t want to miss any visual or audio cues while driving. Also, if you are feeling drowsy and about to fall asleep at the wheel, pull over as soon as you can and don’t try to get home faster by speeding.
3. Pre-set controls
These days, most cars have options to pre-set radio stations or climate control ahead of your drive. You can set up preferences to the radio stations you listen to most or set your iPod or iPhone to your favourite playlists ahead of time.
4. Ensure children and pets are comfortable
Before you start to drive, make sure children are sufficiently fastened in their child seats comfortably, and ensure your children’s car seats are properly installed. If you are travelling with any pets, make sure they are in a crate or attached to a harness, fastened to a seat belt. It will be comfortable and will not allow for them to roam around the vehicle.
Remember: while a distracted driving charge will leave you with stiffer penalties, and may raise your car insurance premium, the focus of this new legislation is safety. It’s up to you to assist in keeping Ontario’s roads safe and control our province’s distracted driving epidemic.