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Ontario Drivers Say Distracted Driving Is Top Road Safety Threat

A woman holds a cellphone in one hand and the steering wheel of a car in the other, indicating she is driving while distracted.

Stay focused and stay alert: Toronto car accident lawyers share insights, tips to avoid distracted driving

What is the biggest threat to road safety? You'll get different answers depending on the province or territory you ask, but in Ontario, drivers say the top safety risk is distracted driving.

According to a new poll, 57% of Ontarians say distracted driving causes more traffic accident deaths than other dangerous driving behaviours like operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol (OMVI).

Yet, about a quarter of survey respondents admitted to driving distracted. Drivers said they are most often distracted by:

  • Eating and drinking.
  • Talking to passengers.
  • Reaching for an object in the vehicle.
  • Checking text messages.

"It's easy to think that it's ok if you quickly check a text message or put an address in the GPS while you're driving, but it can cause an accident just as easily for you as it does for someone else," said Daniel Ivans for RATESDOTCA, the insurance group that conducted the survey.

Tips to avoid distractions while driving

Distracted driving is a major problem on the roads today, leading to thousands of accidents and fatalities each year. While you may not be able to control the actions of other drivers, there are steps you can take to reduce your own risk of becoming a victim of distracted driving. Here are some tips to help you avoid distractions while driving, according to the Canadian Automobile Association and the Ministry of Transportation:

  • Set up your playlist, podcast, or safety features before starting your trip.
  • Review directions and set the GPS before driving.
  • Make sure your Bluetooth is connected and working properly.
  • Record an outgoing message that informs callers you are driving and will respond later.
  • Turn off or silence your phone before driving, and keep it out of reach.
  • Utilize apps that block incoming calls and texts or send automated replies.
  • Ask a passenger to take calls or respond to texts for you.
  • Allow enough time to get to your destination.
  • Secure loose objects in your vehicle.
  • Make sure your children have everything they need before you start driving.
  • Refrain from texting, using apps, or checking social media.
  • Disable notifications that may distract you from the road.
  • If you need to respond to a call or text, pull over in a safe area first.
  • Avoid grooming yourself while driving.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel at all times.
  • Do not eat or drink while driving.
  • Stay focused on the road ahead.

Distracted driving significantly contributes to serious car accidents in provinces across Canada, but especially in Ontario. A study of drivers using cellphones and smartphones found that only the Northwest Territories use their phones while driving more often than drivers in Ontario.

Ontario distracted driving laws

Ontario’s distracted driving laws prohibit the use of hand-held communication/entertainment devices and certain display screens while driving, including when stopped in traffic or at a red light. It is illegal to use a phone or other hand-held wireless communication device to text or dial, use a hand-held electronic entertainment device, view display screens unrelated to driving, or program a GPS device, except by voice commands. However, hands-free wireless communications devices and GPS display screens built into the vehicle’s dashboard or securely mounted on the dashboard are allowed.

Actions such as eating, drinking, grooming, smoking, reading, and reaching for objects are not part of Ontario’s distracted driving law, but can still result in charges of careless or dangerous driving. Additionally, it is important to note that in an emergency situation, you are permitted to use your phone to call 911. However, it is crucial that you pull off the road to a safe area before making the call.

Get the legal help you need after being injured in a crash

If you were hit by a distracted driver in Toronto, it is crucial to stay calm and collect as much evidence as possible. Take pictures of the damage to both cars, get the name and contact information of any witnesses, and report the accident to the police.

Then contact Smitiuch Injury Law to review your potential legal options. There is no cost for the consultation, and we offer legal representation on a contingency fee basis. That means there is no upfront fee or out-of-pocket cost for our services. And if we don't win, you don't pay. If you were injured or a loved one died in a Greater Toronto Area car accident involving a distracted driver, contact us today for a free consultation. Our offices are in Toronto, Brantford, and Simcoe.

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