Whether you’re answering your cell phone, changing the playlist or sipping the coffee you made before work, it’s distracted driving. Recently, insurance companies have changed their definition of a distracted driving offence from a minor conviction to a major conviction. Which means that if you are convicted of distracted driving, you can bet that you will have a major conviction on your record. Depending on the insurance companies decline rules they will now be more likely to not renew drivers who are convicted. Even if you have never had any other driving infractions in your life, one distracted driving ticket is enough to take you from a regular market to a high risk market. This change is important to know about because this charge could cost you a lot of money but also your own life or someone else’s.

What is Distracted Driving?

The common misconception behind distracted driving is that it only applies to cell phones. And although the rate of drivers using their phone while behind the wheel has increased drastically that doesn’t encompass the entire definition. Distracted driving is everything from entering an address into your GPS to touching up lipstick, whether you’re at a red light or moving, distracted driving will cost you. Reading, eating, texting, talking on the phone, reaching for an object and checking your maps are all examples of distracted driving as you are not paying attention to the road which is a huge danger to not only yourself but all other drivers on the road. Don’t be like the lady below. You’re beautiful just the way you are you don’t need to apply makeup while your driving.

 

Distracted Driving Statistics

According to the Government of Ontario and CAA:

  • deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since 2000
  • one person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every half hour
  • a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road
  • a driver texting and driving is 23 times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road
  • a driver reaching for a moving object is 9 times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Need a little help to stop distracted driving? Here are a few tips:

  •  Enter in GPS location and review all maps/directions before you start driving
  • Make sure all loose objects are secure to avoid moving objects in transit
  • Do not text, use apps or read e-mails while driving
  • Put phone on silent mode or turn off while driving
  • Put phone in a safe storage area while driving so it is out of sight
  • If you frequently handle calls while on the road make sure your car has a hands free blue tooth system and it is set up properly
  • Ask a passenger to take a call or respond to a text for you
  • Silence notifications that will tempt you to check your phone (Facebook, Instagram, E-Mail etc.)

Note: if there is an emergency and you need to call 911, pull over to a safe area on the side of the road.

What Happens if You Are Convicted?

Drivers with A to G licences

If you have an A, B, C, D, E, F and/or G licence, you’ll face bigger penalties when convicted of distracted driving:

  • a fine of $490, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • three demerit points

Novice drivers

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:

  • 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

Although not every insurance company treats distracted driving as a major conviction, we are seeing companies trending in that direction and soon this will be the standard. Even if you were a perfect driver before the fine, you will now no longer qualify for the regular insurance markets and you will be forced into a high risk insurance market. And that means paying a lot more for your insurance. When you’re driving keep your eyes and mind on the road, besides only a few more years until we have self-driving cars.

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