IBC praises Ontario’s distracted driving laws and calls for change in driver attitude in 2019

Published: January 3, 2019

Updated: February 1, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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Starting Jan. 1, Ontario’s stricter distracted driving laws are in effect and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has applauded the change, offering support for the new regulations.

Ontario’s new distracted driving legislation means drivers caught operating their vehicle while phoning, dialing, emailing, texting, or otherwise using a hand-held device will be fined up to $1,000. Offenders will also receive a three-day licence suspension and three demerit points.

The minimum fine for a first offence will rise to $615 (up from $490) if the accused settles out of court.

“We applaud the latest efforts of the Government of Ontario to make roads safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians,” said IBC Ontario vice-president Kim Donaldson in a statement. She added that distracted driving is now becoming a major problem in Ontario and the laws can help.

“Distracted driving has contributed to a greater than 10% increase in the frequency of vehicle damage claims made in the province over the last five years,” Donaldson added. “For safety’s sake, IBC urges you to encourage anyone you know who engages in this risky behaviour to drive more carefully.”

IBC says data from the Government of Ontario shows fatalities from road accidents where distracted driving was a factor have doubled since the start of the century. In 2013, it was found a person is injured every 30 minutes in Ontario from a collision involving distracted driving.

Perhaps at the turn of 2019, it’s time to start afresh.

“If there is one resolution you need to keep in 2019, it’s keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road,” said Donaldson. “And tell that to your friends and family. Make this year Ontario’s safest ever.”

Under the new laws, motorists who continue to be caught will face escalating penalties. For a second distracted driving offence within five years, motorists will receive a fine of up to $2,000, a seven-day licence suspension, and six demerit points. Distracted drivers with a true commitment to the infraction with three convictions in five years receive a fine of up to $3,000 and will have the licence revoked for 30 days.