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Cellphone / Distracted Driver
May 10, 2018

Did you know that the most common tickets we have been seeing lately are related to distracted drivers on their cell phones? In today’s day and age, it’s hard to go anywhere or do anything without your cell phone. For most of us it’s the first thing we look at when we wake up and it’s the last thing we look at before we go to sleep. Whether we’re checking our emails, browsing through our social media accounts or just surfing the internet, most of us are guilty of being addicted to our cell phones. It is easy to understand why as technology has become so advanced that now having a cell phone is like having a tiny computer in the palm of your hands. We can use the internet, check our email, Facebook or Twitter and generally look up anything we need to know. It’s no wonder it’s so hard for people to put their phones away.

However, once we get into our cars our phones need to become off limits. The way driving has changed over the years requires that we must give 100% of our attention to the road and those around us at all times. Anything can happen at any moment, and we need to assure that we are fully aware and alert to sharpen our reaction time. There is simply no room for texting or performing any other tasks with our phone while driving that can cause our focus to be drawn away from the road as it can be incredibly dangerous. It is one of the most highly publicized penal laws in Canada, including in Quebec, and it’s the traffic violation we see most often! Not only is it a very common ticket to receive but a person can get several of these same tickets in one year.

With all the current technology available if you must handle your phone while you are driving, there are plenty of handsfree devices at your disposal, and if your vehicle is not equipped with built in Bluetooth, obtaining a device to solve this problem only a trip away to your local electronic store.

A bill by the province was recently given royal assent and the law regarding cell phones is changing to increase the fine to between $500 to $1000 and four (potentially more) demerit points off your license. By raising the amount of the fine being issued for using your phone while driving there is hope by the law makers that this measure might make a difference and get people’s attention. Their goal with this higher fine is to reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road as statistics now show that more accidents and death occur from people being preoccupied by their phones than with driving while under influence of alcohol. This reflected by the news cycle as almost on a weekly basis there is a story involving people that were distracted by their phones when driving and not giving their full and undivided attention to the road and their surroundings.

While we specialize in defending our clients from these charges in court, would much rather see our clients and loved ones remain safe and keep their hands off their phones while behind the wheel. With all the available hands-free devices there is no need to take any unnecessary risks while you’re driving. By taking these precautions you can make sure to avoid the new stiffer and more costly fine... or maybe something even more dire than that.

Driving While Distracted: Tips To Minimise It

Distracted driving continues to be the number one risk to Canadians on the road. In 2017, distracted driving was the leading cause of motor deaths in Ontario, which is not surprising as every 3 of 4 drivers on the road have admitted to being distracted while driving. This is dangerous for everyone involved and the consequences can be harsh. In terms of legal consequences, situations where it is believed a driver is not found to have not shown proper care, can lead them receiving a careless driving ticket. If convicted of the offence, drivers face hefty fines of up to $1,500 and a 90 day license suspension. In late 2017, the government of Quebec moved to increase the fines on repeat offenders of distracted driving. With rising incidents, we shift our focus to how we can minimise these cases and minimise the danger on our roads. If you are a driver, check out these handy tips before you get behind the wheel again.

Multitasking Is a Myth

When driving your attention should be fully on the road ahead. Looking away for a mere 5 seconds whilst driving at 90 km/h can equate to driving across the length of a football field, completely blindfolded. Not to mention the additional obstacles that are present on roadways and not on a football field, like fellow cars and infrastructure.

One of the most used multitasking tools: your cell phone. In fact, use of cell phones is the leading cause of distracted driving across Canada, accounting for 26 percent of car crashes. Other tasks can include eating, applying makeup and watching videos. Many organisations across the country and the United States, are hopping on board to educate the public about distracted driving perils. If you do find yourself a victim of or in the situation of being charged with the offence, having representation that specialises and has experience in distracted driving cases can help. However, one helpful tip to follow before you set off is to be sure to complete any task, for example if you do need to answer a text or call. Or alternatively, find a safe place to pull over and then answer or return that call. If like many families across Canada, you choose to eat on the go choose to eat easy to handle foods.

Make Your Adjustments before Setting Off

Another cause of distraction when driving is discomfort. Many of us choose to adjust our positions while driving to find that perfect alignment in order to be comfortable. Do this before your journey. The simple action of looking away for 2 seconds to find your seat lever can cause you to become one of the 80 percent of collisions that occur due to driver inattention. If you are driving a rental car, take a few minutes after getting in to adjust your seat, and of course, your mirrors.

Familiarise Yourself with Your Car

Finally, get to know your car and its controls. Knowing the location of your frequently used controls such as your indicators or heating controls reduces the need to divert your attention from your driving.

Spending time looking for those controls reduces your ability to navigate the roads and your alertness of potential hazards. If you do end up having trouble finding them whilst on the road, follow the same protocol as answering your cell phone: find a safe place and pull over. This applies to your GPS system as well. While a GPS is a great tool for navigation, take some time to familiarize yourself with the route before setting off so you are not constantly looking at the screen and away from the road on the way there.

Driving distracted can seem like a minimal offence but its consequences can be far reaching and lasting. Economically, it is costing the economy $10 billion dollars annually from lost productivity and additional healthcare costs. For drivers if charged and convicted of a distracted driving offence they are risking higher insurance premiums, a large fine and license suspension. More seriously a distracted driver puts the lives of themselves and those on the road needlessly at risk.