Happy New Year! As you may know, fines for distracted driving have increased along with the tickets you'll face. Know what counts as distracted driving – before you get behind the wheel.
What counts as distracted driving
When you aren’t focused on the road, things can happen fast.
Using your phone to talk, text, check maps or choose a playlist while you’re behind the wheel all count as distracted driving – and they put you and others at risk.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on a highway or stopped at a red light – distracted driving could cost you.
It’s against the law to use hand-held communication (e.g. your phone) and electronic entertainment devices (e.g. DVD player, e-reader) while driving.
In fact, simply holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law.
You can use:
- a hands-free device (e.g. Bluetooth) but only to turn it on and off
- a mounted device (e.g. phone, GPS) as long as it is secure – not moving around while driving
If convicted, the penalty you face depends on the kind of licence you hold and how long you’ve been driving.
Penalties for Distracted Driving
- First conviction:
- a fine of up to $1,000
- three demerit points
- 3-day suspension
- Second conviction
- a fine of up to $2,000
- six demerit points
- 7-day suspension
- Third and any further conviction(s)
- a fine of up to $3,000
- six demerit points
- 30-day suspension
If you hold a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and are convicted of distracted driving, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points.
Instead of demerit points you’ll face longer suspensions:
- a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
- a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
- cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction
- to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program
Tips to avoid distracted driving
Use any of these tips to avoid distracted driving and its penalties:
- turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car
- put it in the glove compartment (lock it, if you have to) or in a bag on the back seat
- before you leave the house, record an outgoing message that tells callers you’re driving and you’ll get back to them when you’re off the road
- some apps can block incoming calls and texts, or send automatic replies to people trying to call or text you
- ask a passenger to take a call or respond to a text for you
- if you must respond, or have to make a call or send a text, carefully pull over to a safe area
- silence notifications that tempt you to check your phone
We share the road, let's all be responsible for each other.
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