Time for zero-tolerance of distracted driving

driving on phoneWhen I was a kid, people thought driving after a few drinks was fine and seat belts were superfluous.

Today they think driving while fiddling with their phones is acceptable.

The truth is that distracted driving is now causing more accidents, injuries and deaths than drunk driving.

Drivers should be aware that we are not able to ‘sneak’ use and deny it after the fact. Investigators routinely check phone records for evidence drivers were texting or talking at the time of an accident.  As with drinking and driving and seat belt use, what we need is a cultural transformation where distracted driving is denounced as a reckless activity.  In order to break the habit of reaching for our phone we can put it out of reach in the trunk or backseat before we start driving.

This week Ontario amended the Highway Traffic Act via the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act coming into effect this fall.  See:  Ontario approves tougher distracted driving penalties.  Changes include:

  • Increase fines for distracted driving from the current range of $60 to $500 to a range of $300 to $1,000, assign three demerit points upon conviction, and escalate sanctions for novice drivers who are convicted.
  • Apply current alcohol-impaired sanctions to drivers who are drug-impaired.
  • Require drivers to let pedestrians completely cross the road before proceeding at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers.
  • Increase fines and demerit points for drivers who “door” cyclists, and require all drivers to maintain a minimum distance of one metre when passing cyclists where possible, as well as allow cyclists to use the paved shoulders on unrestricted provincial highways.
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