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Distracted driving: Penalties and consequences

Distracted driving is a problem that does not seem to go away. With every new cell phone technological advance, there are more reasons for drivers to feel compelled to attempt to multitask while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, distracted driving can lead to serious vehicle collisions and catastrophic injuries.

What are common distractions?

There are countless distractions to pull a driver’s attention away from the safe operation of the vehicle. Most commonly, they can include:

  • Making a phone call
  • Manipulating a GPS unit
  • Manipulating a sound system
  • Personal grooming
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Reading

In general, the use of a cell phone remains the number one source of driver distractions. With the ability to communicate over the phone, text or email the temptation is significant. Additionally, drivers might listen to a podcast, watch a movie or input a new destination into the navigation system.

What types of injuries can occur?

Motor vehicles can collide in many ways including front-end collisions, rear-end collisions and T-bone collisions. Based on the types of vehicles involved and the speeds at which they were traveling, injuries can vary widely. Common injuries can include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Paralysis
  • Broken bones
  • Burn injuries
  • Amputation

Additionally, severe collisions can ultimately result in fatalities for the vehicle occupants.

What can be done to curb these activities?

In theory, all drivers recognize that distractions can be dangerous. In practice, unfortunately, drivers believe they have the skill to overcome such lapses in focus. Ontario has developed distracted driving laws that will levy penalties against drivers who:

  • Use a cell phone, hand-held electronic device or other wireless communication device while driving
  • Watch display screens – mounted or not – unrelated to driving
  • Manually program a navigation unit while also operating the vehicle

Fines and penalties can range based on an array of factors, but they can include fines, demerit points and license suspension. It is wise for Ontario drivers to simply focus on the road and keep all those around them safe.