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How Distracted Driving Can Affect Your Car Insurance

Posted Apr 14th, 2022 in Auto Insurance, Did You Know?, General, In the News, Insurance Tips, Media

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the perfect time to share our best safety tips, clarify common questions and bring you the most up-to-date information on Ontario’s Distracted Driving laws.

How Distracted Driving Can Affect Your Auto Insurance

Many people think distracted driving only refers to texting while driving, but many distractions can affect your judgment and reduce your safety and the safety of those around you while driving. Distracted driving refers to any activity that pulls your attention away from the road. This may include using a cellphone, changing radio stations, eating or drinking, partaking in conversations, smoking or vaping, grooming, and any other task that takes your attention away from driving. 

Why is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?

According to the OPP, distracted driving is the number 1 cause of accidents in Ontario, averaging 8 in 10 accidents being caused by a distraction. Keeping your focus on the road is vital for safe driving. Drivers who text while driving are 23 more times likely to cause an accident, and it is estimated that someone is injured in a distracted-driving collision every half hour. You should never conduct any distracting activity while you’re behind the wheel to ensure the safety of your passengers, other drivers, and yourself.

Consequences of Distracted Driving

While all of the activities mentioned above are dangerous to do while driving, they aren’t all illegal and may not all result in any fines or penalties. Drinking, eating, smoking or grooming are not included in the distracted driving law, however, you may face dangerous driving or careless driving charges if the authorities believe your driving ability is impaired by any of those actions.

To avoid penalties for distracted driving, ensure you are never using your phone in any capacity while driving, including programming a GPS system. Even holding a phone while driving is against the law. Legally, you are allowed to use a hands-free or mounted device but the fewer distractions the better.

The penalties you face, including fines, suspensions, and demerit points, if you do partake in distracted driving will depend on the licence you have.

Penalties for Distracted Driving

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and/or M Licences

First Conviction

- $615 fine if you settle outside of court

- If you choose to go to court to fight the ticket, a fine of up to $1,000 if you lose the case or a summons is received

- Three demerit points

- A 3-day licence suspension

Second Conviction:

- $615 fine if you settle outside of court

- If you choose to go to court to fight the ticket, a fine of up to $2,000 if you a summons is received or you lose the case

- Six demerit points

- A 7-day licence suspension

Third and Further Convictions

- $615 fine if you settle outside of court

- If you choose to go to court to fight the ticket, a fine of up to $3,000 if you a summons is received or you lose the case

- Six demerit points

- A 30-day licence suspension

G1, G2, M1, or M2 licences

Those convicted of distracted driving with a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence will face the same fines as drives with A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and/or M licences. Instead of demerit points, these drivers face longer suspensions.

First conviction

30-day licence suspension 

Second Conviction

90-day licence suspension

Third Conviction

Cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS). You will have to redo the GLS program to get your licence back.

How Will Distracted Driving Convictions Affect My Car Insurance?

If you are convicted of distracted driving in Ontario, it will be on your driving record, which is a factor when it comes to determining your car insurance premium. Any driver with distracted driving convictions on their record should expect the price of their car insurance to increase.

Minor and major driving offences will affect your insurance rates differently, and as of January 1, 2019, Ontario insurance companies consider distracted driving convictions to be a major offence. This means these convictions will have a much bigger impact on your car insurance rates than ever before.

Distracted Driving Facts and Statistics

If learning about the deadly dangers and expensive consequences of distracted driving has not deterred you away from the act already, here are some very real facts and statistics that offer even more evidence you should never be distracted behind the wheel.

- Reaching for an object makes you 9 times more likely to be in an accident.

- 4 million car accidents per year in North America are caused by distracted driving.

- Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. If driving at 90km/h that means you’ve driven the length of a football field without ever seeing where you’re going.

- 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% of those admitted they still do it anyway.

For your safety, the safety of others, and to avoid increasing your car insurance premiums, make sure to be focused and distraction-free while driving.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as professional insurance advice. The coverage, terms, and conditions of each insurance policy are unique and subject to individual circumstances. The information provided does not guarantee the availability or suitability of any insurance policy for your specific needs. You should not rely on the information in the blog as an alternative to professional advice from your insurance broker or insurance company. If you have any specific questions about any insurance matter, please consult a licensed insurance broker for personalized advice and guidance.

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