Ministry of Transportation / Ministère des Transports
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V. Dealing with particular situations
Driver distractions

As of September 1, 2015, if convicted, a fully licensed driver (holder of Class A, B, C, D, E, F, G) or a hybrid driver (holder of a full-class licence and a novice licence such as Class G and M1) who talks, texts, types, dials or e-mails using hand-held cellular phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices faces fines of up to $1,000 and three demerit points applied to their driver’s record under Ontario’s distracted driving law. A novice driver (subject to the graduated licensing program) convicted of distracted driving will be subject to escalating sanctions (30-day licence suspension for a first occurrence; 90 days for a second occurrence; and licence cancellation and removal from the Graduated Licensing System for a third occurrence). Viewing display screens unrelated to driving, such as laptop computers and portable DVD players, is also prohibited while driving. There is a permanent exemption for commercial drivers to view the display screens of mobile data terminals and logistical tracking and dispatch devices.

Police can also charge drivers with careless driving or even dangerous driving (a criminal offence) if they do not pay full attention to the driving task. If you are convicted of careless driving, you will get six demerit points and can be fined up to $2,000 and sentenced to up to six months in jail. In some cases, your licence may be suspended for up to two years.

There are a number of other possible driver distractions including:

  • Using devices such as GPS systems, stereos, CD and DVD players, radios, cell phones, laptops, Personal Digital Assistants or MP3 players
  • Reading maps, directions or other material
  • Grooming (combing hair, putting on make-up or shaving)
  • Eating or drinking Taking notes Talking with passengers
  • Tending to children or pets
  • Adjusting the controls in your vehicle (radio, CD player or climate control)
  • Visual distractions outside your vehicle, such as collisions or police activity

Tips to reduce driver distractions

  • Attend to personal grooming and plan your route before you leave.
  • Identify and preset your vehicle’s climate control, radio and CD player.
  • Make it a habit to pull over and park to use your cell phone or have a passenger take the call or let it go to voice mail.
  • Put reading material away if you are tempted to read.
  • Do not engage in emotional or complex conversations. Stress can affect your driving performance.
  • When you are hungry or thirsty, take a break from driving.

Remember to focus on your driving at all times. A split-second distrac­tion behind the wheel can result in injury or even death.