Distracted Driving Changes in 2019

Ontario Distracted Driving

Ontario has introduced tough new distracted driving laws. Changing your playlist, checking your GPS, eating, using your phone to talk or text are all considered distracted driving that not only put you at risk for accident but also others. Effective January 1st 2019, some drivers may have already noticed higher fines and tougher penalties for distracted driving. New penalties for distracted driving (with an A to G licence):

First conviction

  • a fine of $615, 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
  • 3-day suspension

Second conviction

  • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $2,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • six demerit points
  • 7-day suspension

Third and any further conviction(s)

  • a fine of $615, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $3,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • six demerit points
  • 30-day suspension

Convicted distracting driving charges not only come with hefty fines and carry demerit points but can also affect your auto insurance premium. You can loose your valuable conviction free discount and even be surcharged for major offences. Tickets stay on your record for three years from the conviction date.

Distracted driving can be defined as any act the driver engages in which causes their judgment to be compromised, when not focused on the road. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act specifically outlines the use of a hand-held or electronic entertainment device for anyone who is uncertain.
The Government of Ontario’s website provides tips to avoid distracted driving.

Use any of these tips to avoid distracted driving and its penalties:

  • Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car.
  • Put it in the glove compartment (lock it, if you have to) or in a bag on the back seat.
  • Before you leave the house, record an outgoing message that tells callers you’re driving and you’ll get back to them when you’re off the road.
  • Some apps can block incoming calls and texts, or send automatic replies to people trying to call or text you.
  • Ask a passenger to take a call or respond to a text for you.
  • Silence notifications that tempt you to check your phone.

If there’s an urgent need to use your phone, you should find a place to legally park. In an emergency, you can use your phone to call 911, ensure you have pulled off the road or highway and are in a safe area to do so. If you must use your phone while driving hands free modes are permitted. For navigation a cradle mount should be used.

More than ever in 2019 people are faced with distractions by our technology. Drivers need to remember that for their safety and the safety of those around them, their focus need to be on driving.

What does Cannabis legalization mean for drivers?

There has been a lot of chatter lately about the legalization of cannabis and its implications for drivers. With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada, effective October 17th , comes some uncertainty with new or changed laws with regards to driving under the influence.

cannabis driving

Getting high and driving is not only dangerous and is against the law. According to Statistics Canada over the first half of 2018, about 1.4 million Canadians reported that they had been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had consumed cannabis in the previous two hours. In addition, one in seven cannabis users with a driver’s licence reported that they got behind the wheel at least once within two hours of using the drug in the past three months.

It only takes a small amount of cannabis to impair your ability to drive. Driving high more than doubles your risk of an accident. Drugs impair your ability to drive by affecting:

  • balance and coordination
  • motor skills
  • attention
  • judgment
  • reaction time
  • decision-making skills

Cannabis can impair each person differently. The impairment on individuals can depend on:

  • The method of consumption, for example how cannabis was consumed (smoked, inhaled, ingested).
  • The quantity of cannabis consumed.
  • The variety of cannabis and its THC levels, including cannabis prescribed for medical use.

As a result, there is no guidance to drivers about how much cannabis can be consumed before it is unsafe to drive or how long a driver should wait to drive after consuming cannabis.

The Canadian Automobile Association, whose polling has found that one in five millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) believe they can drive as well — or even better — stoned as they do sober, funded the research.

So far, police forces across Canada have been slow to deploy roadside saliva testing that can check a driver for recent drug use. They’re also grappling with how to reliably and quickly get blood samples from suspected drug-impaired drivers in order to use new criminal charges. Police are still able to rely on field sobriety tests — which can involve standing on one leg or tracking an object with your eye — to screen for drug-impaired driving at the roadside. Anyone who fails can be taken in for further testing.

Don’t take a chance. Don’t drive high.

TruceTO Road Safety Campaign Launched in Toronto


This weekend RSA Canada launched a road safety campaign in Toronto. TruceTO aims to restore empathy between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. City streets require everyone to share the road, however too often cars and bikes can feel like opponents fighting an urban turf war. This conflict isn’t helped when issues like bike lanes and parking are politicized and terms like “war on cars” enter the discourse.

That’s where TruceTO comes in. The campaign aims to raise awareness about how we can share to roads better. A recent survey found that 50% of Toronto pedestrians and drivers don’t know when cyclists have the right of way. TruceTO supporters are encouraged to make a pledge to better share the streets.

The campaign launched in Toronto June 2, 2018 at King and Spadina. Attendees were able to take a road safety quiz, practice their skills in a driving simulator, and of course take the TruceTO pledge. RSA is piloting the initiative in Toronto and plans to expand it across Canada.

TruceTO Toronto

Visit TruceTO.com to learn more.

IBC Innovation Agenda

IBC innovation

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) have released an Innovation Agenda for Ontario’s insurance industry. The report contains four excellent recommendations for the industry which miBroker fully supports.

  1. Allowing all insurance communications and transactions to be completed and delivered electronically if the consumer provides the necessary consent.
  2. Allowing insurers to provide consumers with the option of selecting usage-based insurance (UBI) to help determine the cost of their auto insurance.
  3. Integrating the sharing economy – specifically, technology-enabled ride- and vehicle-sharing services – into the auto insurance system so that insurers can offer new products to cover the risks that individuals face while using sharing economy platforms.
  4. Granting both incumbent insurers and new market entrants access to the regulatory super sandbox to encourage new innovations that will benefit consumers.

Conducting Consumer Transactions Electronically

Insurance laws are unclear about the validity of electronic copies of policies. Many brokers and insurers including miBroker issues electronic copies of policies, but must also send the paper copies to be fully compliant.

Worse, certain transactions are only permitted by mail, registered mail, delivery or personal delivery. This throw back is the result of provisions in the Insurance Act not having been updated when the Electronic Commerce Act was introduced in 2000. This puts insurance at a technological disparity with other industries like real estate. IBC is asking that Brokers and Insurers be allowed to conduct some of these transactions electronically and to adapt existing forms and applications to an online environment.

Electronic proof of insurance is something that many consumers would prefer. Many brokers provide electronic copies of proof of insurance, often these are acceptable to whoever is making the request like a police officer for example. However, technically only printed proof of insurance is valid. It could be requested at a traffic stop and insurers still have to issue the paper copies. This could be an easy fix. A bulletin could be issued by the Superintendent of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to allow electronic slips. These are accepted in most US states and as of January 2018 Nova Scotia. Theres even an industry standard available through the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO).

Option to Choose Usage-Based Insurance (UBI)

People want easy and flexible insurance products. Dynamic pricing is already used in many other industries like finance and banking. FSCO currently allows insurers to use UBI products to offer discounts like through Intact’s My Driving Discount product.

IBC would like to see FSCO go further with this and allow UBI products to set the base price of a policy. This would open the door to pay per use models, or pay per kilometre, which have already ben used in Europe and the US through insurers like Metromile.

This makes a lot of sense as people in cities like Toronto are driving less, and relying more and more of alternative modes of transport like public transit and ridesharing.

Integrating the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy and ridesharing specifically introduce complications into our existing insurance framework. Despite coverage being provided through the ridesharing service, drivers need policies with specific insurers to ensure their adequately covered. We’ve covered some of these issues in the past, and the IBC report goes into greater detail on issues like who’s accident benefits pay in the event of a claim.

An Accessible Regulatory Sandbox

Regulatory sandboxes allow insurers to test new products on real people on a limited basis. Aside from the obvious benefits of prototyping innovative products, regulatory sandboxes allow insurers to work on these projects with an eye to graduating into a regulatory framework.

You can read the full report here: http://mibroker.ca/doc/IBC_InnovationReport.pdf 

You can visit IBC’s Ontario Insurance Innovation microsite here: http://insuranceinnovation.ca