While the winter can be a wonderful time of year, it can also mean an increased risk on the roads. While impaired drivers are a huge danger on the road, they are not the only type of driver to watch out for this season. Distracted driving actually plays a larger part in accidents and injuries than ever before.
With the weather hitting sub-zero temperatures many of us decide to escape the winter by vacationing somewhere. Whether you are renting a car or just driving to the airport we need to be mindful and aware of distracted driving to avoid any potential of a motor vehicle collision and injury.
Canada’s government is cracking down on distracted driving. On September 1, 2015 in Ontario, the fines and penalties for distracted driving increased from $280 to $490 and 3 demerits points. Find out the risks of distracted driving, which devices you can and can’t use and the penalties you could incur.
Not only do we have to watch out for ourselves, we need to watch out for distracted drivers as we navigate this winter season. You know the ones we are talking about. The car in front of you that for some reason starts moving further and further to the right or is having trouble staying in the lines altogether.
What Is Classified as Distracted Driving?
In Canada, it is illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. According to the CCMTA’s Distracted Driving Subcommittee: “Distracted driving is the diversion of attention from driving, as a result of the driver focusing on a non-driving object, activity, event or person. This diversion reduces awareness, decision-making or performance leading to increased risk of driver error, near-crashes or crashes. The diversion of attention is not attributable to a medical condition, alcohol/drug use and/or fatigue.”
Possible Distractions For a Driver Include:
- Using electronic devices such as (global positioning system) GPS systems, CD and DVD players, radios, cell phones, laptops, (personal digital assistant) PDAs and MP3 players;
- Reading maps, directions or other material;
- Grooming (e.g. combing hair, putting on make-up or shaving);
- Eating or drinking;
- Talking with passengers or tending to children or pets;
- Visual distractions outside your vehicle, such as collisions, police activity, or looking at street signs or billboards.
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, 2010), in 2009:
- 16% of fatalities in the U.S. involved driver distraction;
- 20% of injuries in the U.S. involved driver distraction;
- the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes was in the under-20 age group (16%) followed by those aged 20 to 29 (13%);
- Light-truck drivers and motorcyclists were most often distracted (12% each);
- Drivers aged 30 to 39 were most likely to have been distracted by cell phones (24%) prior to fatal crashes.(Source: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/tp-tp15145-1201.htm)
Learn more about the Ontario laws around distracted driving on the Ministry of Transportation website.
Safe Driving Recommendations
After reading all the above staggering statistics we hope you are convinced of the need to eliminate distracted driving habits. The laws were created for your protection and there are some logical and reasonable exemptions that can be applied to these laws against distracted driving and the use of hand-held devices.
If you need to make a call and don’t have a hands-free device or voice dialing blue-tooth pull over on the shoulder off the roadway and lawfully park. Then make your call. If you are lost and need to redirect your GPS you should also always pull over on the side of the road to fix this.
You can also use a cell phone as long as an earpiece, Bluetooth or headset is used with voice-dialing. Dialing or scrolling on your phone while your vehicle in is motion is against the law. You are also allowed to use your GPS while your car is in motion provided the GPS is mounted on the dashboard or windshield. But remember, you MUST input all the required info into your GPS before you start driving.
You may use your iPod or other portable media player plugged into your vehicle’s sound system as long as the playlist is activated before you start driving. The new display screens and SatNav consoles that are available in many new models of vehicles are also deemed safe as long as any information you need to input is put in before you start driving. Ignition interlock devices are also permitted.
With all the new hands-free technology available in today’s motor vehicles it has become truly unnecessary for a driving to be distracted. The fines for distracted driving in Canada are steep. So remember, drive safe and leave the phone alone.
Have you been in a car accident that involved a distracted driver and you or someone in your car was injured? Let us help you work through the car accident injury claim process.