Distracted driving is illegal in Ontario and testing/reading your phone, calling on your phone, and using any hand-held device while driving is considered to be distracted driving.
For many people, ignoring the ‘PING’ of a new message, update or alert is nearly impossible. They can’t not look, and pick up their phones immediately to respond with no regard for what other things they are doing such as driving.
In an effort to help people with this problem, verging on addiction for many, iPhones will have a new capacity in the newest update scheduled to be released in the fall. The new feature will block text message notifications on iPhones while a person is driving. iOS 11 will use Bluetooth technology to sense when someone is driving. When the phone is in driving mode the screen will appear black. The phone will not display any notifications until they arrive at their destination.
Anyone sending a message to a phone in drive mode will get a message telling them that the driver can’t read the phone at the moment. Passengers can turn the mode off on their phones.
Apple is taking this move in recognition of the dangers of distracted driving which results in 2 injuries and hour in Ontario. People are four times more likely to be in a car accident while using a phone.
Safety advocates hope that laws will be enacted making it mandatory that phones be inoperable in a vehicle. The technology exists, it’s a question of will.
The easiest way to stay safe is to put your phone away while driving. It is against the law to hold a hand-held communication device and power electronic entertainment devices (e-readers and DVD players) while driving. Simply holding your device in your hand is illegal.
Penalties for distracted driving:
Drivers with A to G licences
If you have an A, B, C, D, E, F and/or G licence, you’ll face bigger penalties when convicted of distracted driving:
a fine of $490, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
three demerit points
If you hold a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and are convicted of distracted driving, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points.
Instead of demerit points you’ll face:
a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction
to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program
You could face more charges – for careless driving – if you endanger other people because of any kind of distraction. This includes distraction caused by both hand-held (e.g., phone) or hands-free (e.g., Bluetooth) devices.
If convicted of careless driving, you may receive:
six demerit points
fines up to $2,000 and/or
a jail term of six months
a licence suspension of up to two years
You could even be charged with dangerous driving – a criminal offence that carries heavier penalties, including jail terms of up to 10 years for causing bodily harm or up to 14 years for causing death.