News

The cost of Distracted Driving just went up

Tuesday, March 18, 2014   by: Kate Adams

North Bay Police Service
News Release

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Today, March 18, 2014 the fine for a Distracted Driving offence rose from $155 to $280.

“Ontario’s law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices," the MTO said in an email statement. "The law also prohibits drivers from viewing display screens while driving, such as laptops or DVD players, that are unrelated to the driving task."

Questions commonly asked by drivers

  • When can I legally pull over to use my phone?
  • What constitutes legal parking?
  • Does my engine have to be turned off?
  • Do the keys have to be out of the ignition?
  • When can I legally use my phone?

Answers

  • Put simply, you can't touch a hand-held phone when you're driving unless you're pushing the hands-free button or calling 911.
  • Drivers can touch a device to turn the hands free function on or off, but otherwise can’t physically touch the device while driving. That includes giving instructions to the GPS and playing MP3s.
  • If you're parked or safely pulled over and not impeding traffic, then you're not driving. You can use the device from behind the wheel without getting charged.
  • You have to follow other traffic laws. If it says No Parking, you can't park there. You have to be lawfully, or legally, parked. That means you can only park where parking is allowed. If there is a No Parking sign, then it's not lawful parking.
  • Your vehicle must be in park to use a device.  The engine doesn't have to be off and the keys don't have to be out of the ignition. When pulling over, you can't pull over where it's not allowed. For example, pulling over is banned on 400-series roads except in an emergency.
  • In non-emergency situations, drivers should exit the freeway at an interchange or pull into the nearest service centre.
  • If you're in traffic but not moving, at a stop light or in a traffic jam, it is illegal to use your device, even if you put your vehicle in park.
  • If you're stopped in traffic, you're still driving – you're just not moving. You still have to pay attention to the lights and to other traffic.

Hands-free allowed

Ontario's distracted driving law allows hands-free calling. But a 2013 study by the University of Utah and the American Automobile Association showed talking on a hands-free phone was almost as distracting to drivers as talking on a hand-held phone.

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