OPP conducting distracted driving campaign over March break



With the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) set to conduct its Distracted Driving Campaign during March Break (March 11-17, 2019), drivers caught using their cell phones may also get caught off guard by the tougher penalties that took effect on January 1, 2019.

The new penalties include a fine increase up to $1,000, three demerit points and a three-day licence suspension. The penalties increase with subsequent offences. For novice drivers in the graduated licencing system, there is no fine or additional demerit points but longer licence suspensions now apply.

“Among the most dangerous drivers are those who continue to ignore the facts and convince themselves that using a cell phone while driving is not dangerous and forms part of today’s driving culture. Never let a driver use this, or any other justification for using a hand-held device while driving,” says Interim Commissioner Gary Couture, Ontario Provincial Police. “It is as dangerous a driving behaviour today as it was when Ontario’s Distracted Driving laws came into force ten years ago.”

The deaths of 55 people and more than 9,115 collisions were linked to an inattentive driver on OPP-patrolled roads in 2018. The OPP laid 13,529 Distracted Driving charges last year against drivers who chose to make roads unsafe by dividing their attention between driving and using a hand-held electronic device.

“Not only is it illegal to use your phone or any other hand-held device while driving, stopped in traffic or at a red light, it can be fatal,” says Sylvia Jones, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. “Distracted driving is still a major cause of collisions and drivers will now face tougher penalties, including automatic driver’s licence suspensions. Don’t risk your life and the lives of others, put down the phone.”

LEARN MORE: New Distracted Driving penalties

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1 Comment

  1. Charles Wilson on

    So this story is somewhat misleading. It’s not, as the story suggest,s “the use” of cell phones but the hand holding and use of cellphones that is targeted by the law:
    “7. The display screens of the following devices may be visible to any driver in a motor vehicle driven on a highway: 1. A device that displays… ii. information on road or weather conditions.
    “14. (1) A person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while pressing a button on a hand-held wireless communication device to make, answer or end a cell phone call …. if the device is placed securely in or mounted to the motor vehicle so that it does not move while the vehicle is in motion and the driver can see it at a quick glance and easily reach it without adjusting his or her driving position. ”
    Or to put it simply you can read a GPS map screen and, if your cell phone is clamped to the dash board, you can use it normally.
    Somehow the people who devised these rules thought that distracted driving was what you did with your hands. Distracted driving is what you do with your brain.
    It is perfectly possible to be entirely distracted from the business of driving by a phone call without ever touching a cell phone.
    One of the early cases on this was decided on the liability of someone imparting devastating news (the death of a relative) to someone driving on the highway. The news distracted the driver who was operating a hands-free device and a crash ensued injuring others. The third party sued the driver, the cell phone provider and the person making the call and won. Since then other cases have been decided differently on different facts.
    Vehicles are about to change radically so that, Like the doomed Boeing 747 Max 8 , they control the driver rather than the driver controlling them. Cell phones and GPS are the least of the problems coming down the pike.
    Driving the modern car on the modern road requires 100 per cent attention. The police will do their best to keep us all alive but the exemptions under the present rules make it hard for them.
    When I was young we had one phone for everybody in the house and my grandfather placed it in the flower room where only the butler was required to answer it. I don’t recall a single item of importance being lost or miscommunicated because of this admittedly rather inconvenient restriction.

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