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.

Top 10 Stolen Vehicles of 2018

car theft

It usually only takes a couple of minutes, or even less for someone who has the right means, to steal a vehicle. With the holiday season approaching it is important to be more cautious of your vehicles as this is the most common time for any vehicle to be stolen, mainly due to the fact that they could be filled with gifts.

Vehicles are never a good place to store your personal belongings or gifts. If things are stolen from your car, there may be limited to no coverage under your auto policy. Your homeowners or renters insurance may cover these items, however this will involve reporting a separate claim which will likely carry a deductible.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada noted in a recent article that thieves generally steal vehicles for one of four reasons:

  • To sell abroad: Stolen vehicles are often immediately packed – with their vehicle identification numbers (VINs) still intact – and shipped abroad, where they are sold for many times their original market value.
  • To sell to unsuspecting consumers: Stolen vehicles may be given a false VIN and then sold to unsuspecting consumers. They can also be dismantled and sold for parts.
  • To get somewhere: This may be referred to as “joyriding.” Auto theft of any kind is a crime and innocent people may get hurt or killed as a result.
  • To commit another crime: Stolen vehicles used to commit other crimes are often recovered – abandoned and badly damaged – within 48 hours of their theft.

A big factor Insurance companies use to set premiums is how often your make and model of vehicle is stolen. To minimize the chances of your vehicle being stolen it is important to not leave your vehicle running unattended; do not leave your keys or key fob unattended; do not leave valuables on the seat or visible; ensure you park in a well lit area or in a locked garage.

A newer way vehicles thieves are getting away with your vehicle involves boosting key fob signals. This is done by intercepting the fob signal from inside the home to open and steal cars in driveways. The Toronto Police Service recently posted a photo (below) warning the public regarding relay thefts of vehicles using the boosting key fob signals method.

car theft

Each year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada complies a list of the top 10 stolen vehicles in Canada.

Here are the Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles of Canada for 2018:

  1. 2007 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
  2. 2006 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
  3. 2005 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
  4. 2004 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
  5. 2003 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
  6. 2006 FORD F250 SD 4WD PU
  7. 2001 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
  8. 2000 FORD F250 SD 4WD PU
  9. 2015 LEXUS GX460 4DR AWD SUV
  10. 2001 FORD F250 SD 4WD PU

Here are the Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles of Ontario for 2018:

  4. 2007 FORD F350 SD 4WD

To see other provinces Top 10 Stolen vehicles visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s website: ibc.ca

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.