Distracted driving is a severe offence in Ottawa or any other city in Ontario. Driving requires your full attention, and any distraction can have dangerous, or potentially life-threatening, consequences. Even for a split second, looking away from the road can be disastrous, increasing your odds of a vehicle collision. Let’s look at what distracted driving in Ottawa is, and how you can avoid dangerous driving habits.

What counts as distracted driving in Ottawa?

There seems to be a widespread misconception that distracted driving is solely while using a cell phone. This is incorrect. According to the official Government of Ontario website, anything that causes you to lose focus on the road can be considered distracted driving. This includes:

  • Making a phone call
  • Texting
  • Changing a song on the radio
  • Eating
  • Reading
  • Typing an address into a GPS

Whenever your focus shifts to something other than the road, the consequences may cost you more than just a ticket. It’s important to remember that the above count as distractions, even when you’re stopped at a red light. You need to focus at all times!

Distracted driving increases the risk of an accident

The Ottawa Police Services inform and instruct new drivers about distracted driving while still learning to drive. Their program emphasizes the likelihood of being in a crash, or near crash event, in comparison to non-distracted drivers:

  • Text messaging (or texting) on a cell phone is 23 times more likely!
  • Talking on a cell phone is four to five times more likely
  • Reading is three times more likely.
  • Dialling on a hand-held device is three times more likely.
  • Speaking or listening on a hand-held device is 1.3 times more likely.

In 2022, 105 deaths were caused by distracted driving in Ottawa, up from 86 in 2018, according to the report by Hellosafe, an insurance policy comparison platform.

What are the penalties for distracted driving in Ottawa?

Drivers convicted of distracted driving in Ottawa will face big penalties. If you hold an A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and/or M licence, that means:

First offence for distracted driving in Ottawa

Fines range anywhere from $615 to $1,000. You can also lose up to three demerit points and have your licence suspended for up to three days.

Second offence for distracted driving

Fines can go up to $2,000, six demerit points, and up to a seven-day licence suspension.

Three or more offences 

Fines can go up to $3,000, six demerit points, and a possible 30-day licence suspension.

If you’re a novice driver, with a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But instead of receiving demerit points, you’ll face longer suspensions:

  • First offence = 30-day licence suspension
  • Second offence = 90-day licence suspension
  • Third offence = cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (you’ll have to redo the program to get it back).

Unfortunately, many of these incidents are caused by drivers who don’t take distracted driving in Ottawa seriously. Fines and penalties are increasing because there are too many accidents occurring as a result. Police can also charge a driver with careless driving if evidence is found, which can result in jail time. Financial penalties aside, distracted driving is because of carelessness and selfishness and can harm other innocent drivers or pedestrians. Talking and texting are extremely dangerous, although other factors can also impact your driving abilities. What surprises people is that this is not an age-specific issue. Studies show that younger drivers are often distracted when changing music, whereas older drivers are generally distracted by elements outside the vehicle. Therefore, distractions affect every driver and are not limited to one age category.

In Ontario, it’s illegal to touch a phone or hand-held electronic device, even at a red light, unless it’s to call 911 in an emergency.

So, how do you prevent distractions while driving?

The rule is simple; whenever you’re behind the wheel, focus on the road. This is your top priority because it will ensure you reach your destination safely without harming yourself or others. We offer auto insurance to drivers in Ottawa and are glad to answer any of your questions, so give us a call now! If you want more information regarding the severity of this issue and how it can impact your insurance, isure is always here to help.

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