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Pay attention or pay the price: Distracted driving fines are changing as of January 1st 2019

Posted in Personal Insurance Tips, Auto Insurance

Pay attention or pay the price: Distracted driving fines are changing as of January 1st 2019

Motorists are advised to exercise additional awareness on the roads. Changes to distracted driving fines in 2019 will have serious consequences for your insurance policy.

Dangerous behaviours result in higher penalties

Speaking with journalists earlier this year, Ontario Provincial Police Constable Roop Sandhu had a firm reminder about the dangers of inattentive driving. Over the past four years, he said, inattentive driving while using an electronic device has been the leading cause of major fatalities in Ontario.

Distracted driving even beat out alcohol and drug-related fatalities on the roads. This is a sobering reminder about the danger of these inattentive behaviours.

Increased fines and driver suspensions will be applied as of January 1st 2019. Distracted driving can include a wide range of offences, including eating, putting on make-up, turning around to grab something from the back seat, and more.

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The use of electronic devices is a primary focus for the new fines. Inform yourself of what this means and the possible consequences to limit your risk in the new year.

What behaviours should I avoid under the new regulations?

Drivers caught talking on their phones, texting, dialing, or emailing using a hand-held device will be penalized.

This includes using the hand-held device or dialing your hands-free device while parked at a stop light. Collisions and traffic accidents can still occur when the car is not in motion. Additionally, pedestrians and cyclists will still be using the roads and sidewalks around you.

The only time that you may legally use your device is while safely parked. You can pull off the roadway or use an off-ramp to exit the highway. Note that it is also illegal to pull off to the shoulder of a 400 series highway unless you are calling emergency services.

How can I make calls safely from a hands-free device in my vehicle?

You may use a hands-free device which has voice activated dialing while driving.

It is important to note that dialing your hands-free device will be considered distracted driving under the new regulations.

A hands-free device is considered as follows:

  1. A cell phone with an earpiece or headset that uses voice-activated dialing.
  2. A cell phone that is connected to a Bluetooth system, with voice-activated actions.
  3. A GPS screen that has been activated before departure and is mounted securely.
  4. A portable media player that is connected to a Bluetooth system, and has been activated before departure.

What consequences will I face if I am caught?

Penalties are increasing for A, B, C, D, E, F, and/or G license holders. Penalties vary based on the number of convictions on your record.

For those with a first conviction, you will receive a fine of up to $1,000 plus three demerit points. You will also receive a three-day driver’s license suspension.

The Ministry of Transportation website outlines the increasing penalties based on your number of convictions here.

What consequences will this conviction have for my insurance?

Your first offense may be considered a major conviction, depending on your insurance company. Major convictions can result in a required premium fee of 25%, cancellation of your policy, or a guarantee of non-renewal. You should speak with your broker to understand the impact of a second or third conviction under your insurance policy.

Insurance companies are increasingly regarding distracted driving convictions as a serious indicator of risk. It puts you as an individual at a higher risk of accident or injury. Once you are classified as a high-risk driver, you will see your premiums rise and could lose your insurance coverage entirely.

Do not pay the price of inattentive driving. Take these new laws seriously by using hands-free devices and keeping your whole attention on the road.

What does your vehicle insurance protect? 

If you are not sure what your vehicle insurance covers, we invite you to talk to one of our insurance brokers today to get a free vehicle insurance quote.

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