Ontario’s Distracted Driving law is now in effect.

by | Jan 10, 2019 | Car Insurance, What's New

Providing you with auto insurance protection is our top priority.

The new regulations for distracted driving in Ontario came into effect in January 1, 2019. They are part of Ontario’s Bill 174 cannabis legislation. According to Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s minister of transportation, “Ontario will have the toughest penalties for repeat distracted driving convictions.” – See CBC News article

Ontario’s strict distracted driving legislation could impact your auto insurance coverage

Ontario’s distracted driving law now has a lot more muscle. It means that drivers who are apprehended while talking, texting, dialling or emailing using a handheld device like a cell phone or entertainment device will be fined up to $1,000. As well, a three-day license suspension and three demerit points will be applied.

If caught a second time, these drivers will receive a fine up to $2,000 and a seven-day license suspension, along with six demerit points. If caught more than three times, they will pay a fine of up to $3,000 and lose their license for 30 days.

“Safety is our top priority,” Jeff Yurek told CBC News via email. He clarified that the legislation “allows the province to address unsafe driving behaviours, including careless driving and impaired driving with tough new rules and penalties that will help improve road safety.”

Ontario is not alone in implementing stricter regulations. Quebec recently increased its maximum distracted driving fine from $100 with four demerit points to $600 with five demerit points – See Mobile Syrup Article

Questions frequently asked about Ontario’s distracted driving law

We’re commonly asked if the new law applies to hands-free devices. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has this to say: “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.

Customers also want to know if they can use a hand-held device when stopped at a stop light. The Ontario government’s response: “No. With the exception of a call to the police, fire department or emergency medical services personnel, a driver of a motor vehicle must be pulled off the roadway and not impeding traffic, or lawfully parked to use these hand-held devices.

Finally, we’re often asked about certain exemptions to the law. The Ontario government’s response:

When driving, you are not permitted to use hand-held communication and entertainment devices or view display screens unrelated to the driving task, with the following exceptions:

  • Calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation
  • When the driver is lawfully parked or has safely pulled off the roadway and is not impeding traffic

 Other devices not included in the ban:

  • Viewing a display screen used for collision avoidance systems
  • Viewing a display screen of an instrument, gauge or system that provides information on the conditions, use and immediate environment of the vehicle or that provides road or weather information
  • Ignition interlock
  • Car audio screens that display still images”

See MTO Website for more information

Talk to us about the impact of Ontario’s new distracted driving law on your car insurance premiums

A distracted driving ticket is now considered a major infraction by some insurance companies. That means insurance companies will raise their pricing, viewing a distracted driver as a greater risk of causing an accident. This could mean a surcharge of up to 100%, and the offender no longer qualifying for regular car insurance.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss the details of this new legislation. The protection of our customers is our top priority, and we feel you should know all the facts in order to reduce any risks.