What is Distracted Driving? What's Illegal? What's Not?

Today, distracted driving is the number one risk on Canadian roads and more common than you might think. Eight out of ten police-reported collisions involve some form of driver distraction up to 3 seconds prior to the event.* When distracted, a driver may fail to see and register up to 50% of the available information in the surrounding environment.

This results in a distracted driver's attention being focused elsewhere, not on the road. Common examples of distracted driving could be playing with the radio, eating and drinking while driving, talking to passengers, and, yes, talking on a cellphone.

Distracted driving reduces awareness and hinders decision-making which can lead to errors on the road, accidents almost taking place, or collisions.

Furthermore, nearly 75% of all Canadian drivers have admitted to driving distracted.* Here are some examples of distracted driving:

  • Adjusting music or radio
  • Looking and talking to passengers
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking on a cellphone
  • Talking on the phone with a hands-free device
  • Adjusting GPS and other car settings
  • Reaching for something in the backseat
  • Taking off or putting on clothing or accessories
  • Sending or reading texts or emails
  • Fixing hair and makeup

To this point, although the examples above are categorized as distracted driving, not all are illegal. However, these actions put the safety of you and your passengers at risk, so it is important to be aware of them.

What distracted driving behaviours are illegal?

  • Using a hand-held wireless communication device, such as your cellphone is illegal.
  • Texting, dialling, or emailing while driving is also illegal.

Distracted driving penalties in Ontario

In Ontario, fines for distracted driving can be anywhere from $615 to $3,000 with three to six demerit points. For more information on distracted driving laws & penalties in Ontario, visit canadadrives.ca.

To discuss the finer details of distracted driving and car insurance, contact us online or call us at 1-800-216-5324. Request a free, no-obligation quote from our experts.

*Insurance Bureau of Canada. (September, 2011) DWD may soon be the new DUI. Retrieved June 5, 2018, from http://www.ibc.ca/qc/auto/risk-management/distracted-driving