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Ontario Proposes Increasing “Distracted Driving” Fines – and Adding Demerit Points

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Ontario’s government has introduced a Bill that would result in harsher penalties for distracted driving.

The proposed amendments to the Highway Traffic Act would:

-Increase the fine range from $60 – $500 to $300 – $1,000, and

-Assign three demerit points upon conviction of a distracted driving offence.

Sections 78 of the Highway Traffic Act prohibits holding of “a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages”.  Since that provision was introduced in 2009, it has become widely recognized that distracted driving is a major road safety issue in Ontario.

Ontario employers should consider implementing a “distracted driving” policy if they have not done so already – particularly where employees regularly drive on business.

Ontario Bill 173 may be accessed here, and a government press release on the Bill may be accessed here.