Effective September 1st, drivers in Ontario caught using their handheld device while driving will be fined a minimum of $490. In addition, offending drivers will receive three demerit points.
The stiffer penalties are a part of Bill 31, otherwise known as the “Making Ontario Roads Safer Act”, that was passed in June. The law also states that novice drivers—which is anyone with a G1, G2, M1, M2, M2-L or M2-M licence—could face fines upwards of $1,000 and a 30-day licence suspension.
In a statement emailed to MobileSyrup, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said, “If current trends continue, fatalities from distracted driving may exceed those from drinking and driving in the near future. And, research tells us that a driver who uses a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash.”
He went on to add, “As part of Ontario’s steadfast commitment to road safety, on September 1st we’re getting tougher on distracted driving by increasing the set fine to $490, applying three demerit points upon conviction and introducing escalating penalties for new drivers convicted of distracted driving. All drivers need to remember: Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Don’t use hand-held devices or cell phones while driving.”
The Government of Ontario banned the use of a mobile device while driving in 2009. The OPP recently released stats that say 45 out of 168 vehicle-related deaths in 2013 were caused by distracted driving. 2015 has already seen 12 distracted driving-related deaths.