Oct 15 2023 |
Distracted Driving: The Leading Cause of Car Accidents in Ontario
Driving while distracted by things other than what is happening on the road has become the leading cause of serious accidents in Ontario. For decades, the most dangerous behaviours drivers could do behind the wheel were speeding and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
However now that nearly 90% of all Canadians (and roughly 98% of 16 to 24-year-olds) own a smartphone, using your phone has become the most dangerous driving behaviour. Distracted driving now contributes to an estimated 21% of fatal accidents and 27% of accidents leading to serious injury.
Texting, talking on the phone, or otherwise driving distracted is a breach of the driver’s duty of care to road users and can be grounds for a tort claim against the driver. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident with a distracted driver, the lawyers at Zayouna Law Firm are here to help.
How Prevalent is Distracted Driving in Ontario?
Distracted driving has been contributing to more and more accidents in Ontario every year, increasing an estimated 36% from 2020 to 2022 alone. The prevalence of distracted driving is sobering considering how preventable it is. Roughly 80% of Canadians admit to engaging in some distracted behaviours while driving even though 90% of Canadians admit that distracted driving poses a serious threat to their safety on the road.
What are the Penalties for Distracted Driving in Ontario
In 2019, Ontario made the penalties for distracted driving much more severe. As per Ontario regulation 366/09, the penalties for using a hand-held device while driving are now tiered depending on the number of prior offenses:
- First-time offense penalties carry a fine of up to $615 (up to $1,000 in certain cases), up to three demerit points, and a potential 3-day license suspension
- Second offenses carry a fine of $615 (up to a maximum of $2,000), six demerit points, and a potential seven-day license suspension
- Third-time offenses carry a maximum fine of $3,000, six demerit points, and a 30-day license suspension
What are the Most Common Distractions While Driving?
Cell phones are the most common driving distraction, but they are certainly not the only distraction. Distracted driving comes in many forms, and often it’s little things that can have a big impact. Here are some common distractions that drivers should be aware of:
- Cell phones
- Eating and drinking
- Grooming, fixing hair, doing make-up, etc.
- Using navigation systems
- Conversations with passengers
Ontario law has an exemption for hand-held device regulations that allow for hands-free mode while driving. However, accessing hands-free mode and taking a phone call while driving are still risky activities, and are better avoided if possible.
It is estimated that talking on the phone makes it four times more likely that you will get in an accident. This is largely because, on the phone, the person you are talking to can’t adjust their conversation to match the driving conditions like a passenger can.
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving in Ontario
Now that we know the common distractions, let’s discuss some practical tips to help you stay focused and safe while driving in Ontario:
- Put Your Phone Away: Turn your phone on silent mode or use a hands-free device if you need to make or answer calls. If you must use your phone for any reason, pull over to a safe spot first.
- Plan Ahead: Set your GPS, adjust your mirrors, and make sure everything you need is within easy reach before you hit the road. Avoid making adjustments while driving.
- Eat and Drink Responsibly: If you’re hungry or thirsty, plan your meal breaks so you can eat while parked or not in the car. Make sure your water or snacks are easy to reach and don’t require a lot of attention to consume.
- Limit Conversations: Try to keep conversations to a minimum when driving in tricky or busy traffic situations.
- Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the risks of distracted driving and the penalties involved in Ontario. Knowing the consequences can be a powerful deterrent.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help After an Accident with a Distracted Driver
Driving distracted is a breach of a driver’s duty of care to other road users and can be grounds for claiming negligence in the event of an accident. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you should reach out to a personal injury lawyer in Ontario for help exploring your options for seeking compensation. You might be able to get compensation through your insurance company or by filing a tort claim against the at-fault driver.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help with every step of the legal process including:
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Offering legal experience as you decide what the best next steps are
- Compiling evidence, witness testimonies, and other documentation
- Ensuring all deadlines and limitation periods are met
- Representing you in court hearings if necessary
Through a tort claim or insurance benefits, you might be able to get financial compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation fees, physical and psychological pain, lost income, and other costs associated with seeking care for your injuries.
Book a Free Consultation With Zayouna Law Firm Today
The lawyers at Zayouna Law Firm have decades of experience representing clients across Southern Ontario after getting injured in car accidents. We understand how challenging of a time it is to deal with injuries or the loss of a loved one and will do everything in our power to help you get the compensation you deserve.
To make the first step as easy as possible, we offer free initial consultations to discuss your case and help you understand your rights under Ontario law. Don’t hesitate. Give us a call today to meet with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.