In October of 2009, the province of Ontario banned texting and/or talking on a handheld device while driving. Warnings with no fines were issued for a three month period. Effective February 1, 2010, the warning period is over and drivers can now be fined as much as $500.
If $500 isn't enough to change your driving habits, consider the fact that you could end up paying a whole lot more when you factor in the increase you may see when your automobile insurance policy renews. Depending upon your driving record, you could see a drastic increase in your insurance rate. If you already have one ticket on your record, the addition of a Distracted Driver conviction could see you incur an increase of as much as 10%. This is over and above the average 8.8% premium increase that many insurance companies applied for and received in 2009. In other words, the total increase on your car insurance premium as a result of the two convictions could be almost 20%.
If you are involved in an accident, texting or talking while driving, you could face a Careless Driving charge. This carries a fine of up to $1000, plus six demerit points on your licence. In this instance, your insurance premium would increase by 50% just for the conviction, plus you would have an at fault accident on your record which could increase your premium by as much as 100%.
For example, if your current premium is $1500 annually, you could see an additional $150 added onto your premium as a result of a Distracted Driver conviction alone. When you compare the total cost of this conviction (the fine plus the increase to your car insurance premium) against the cost of a hand-free device for your cell phone (as low as $30) you are likely to find that regardless of the conversation, ignoring this new legislation is just not worth it.
Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your story: Have you changed your driving habits as a result of the ban on handheld while driving, or have you been pulled over since the February 1st effective date?