Canada is a vast country, with lots of places to go and wide open roads. But no matter where your nationwide travels may take you, it’s against the law in almost all provinces and territories to drive while distracted. Distracted driving is a form of impaired driving when you think about it; you’re not focused or able to properly assess what’s going on around you, and your reaction time is greatly reduced. It can also be deadly, which is why the fines and demerit points are considerable and the auto insurance implications hefty if caught.
Distracted driving and your insurance rate
While safety is the paramount incentive to not drive distracted, there are fines, demerit points and auto insurance implications to consider as well.
InsuranceHotline.com set out to see how distracted driving could actually impact your wallet. We compared Ontario car insurance quotes for a driver with a clean driving history in six different cities, and then layered in several possible outcomes if you drive while distracted.
1. A hand-held device ticket plus losing an auto insurance discount
Your insurance rate could increase when you have a ticket on your driving record and you could lose any conviction-free discount that you may currently enjoy. This discount is usually worth five to 10 per cent.
- Related Read: The Top 10 Traffic Tickets You Want To Avoid
With a ticket for "prohibited use of a hand-held" we found that a driver could see an increase of over $230, an 18 per cent increase, to the average lowest premiums quoted.
Average lowest car insurance rate Clean driving history $1238 Distracted driving ticket $1471
2. Distracted driving, plus one
If you are caught speeding, making an improper lane change, or causing any other driving infraction while using your hand-held device, a police officer could actually give you two tickets: one for distracted driving and another for the other infraction. This would count as two tickets on your driving record even though the infractions happened at the same time.
Average lowest car insurance rate Clean driving history $1238 Distracted driving and speeding ticket $1739
With two tickets now on your previously clean driving record, your auto insurance premiums could increase over $500.
3. Distracted and dangerous
If getting one ticket, or even two tickets, isn’t reason enough to put down the device while driving, here’s one more for you: A police officer can charge you with careless or dangerous driving if you are weaving in and out of your lane, or if you hit another vehicle while on your hand-held resulting in an at-fault collision.
Average lowest car insurance rate Clean driving history $1238 Careless driving ticket $3423 Careless driving and at-fault collision $5831
A careless driving conviction will likely mean you’ll be considered a high-risk driver and this will be reflected in your auto insurance premiums for years to come; at least 3 years.
Distracted driving laws across Canada
In addition to the long-term affect distracted driving will have on your auto insurance premiums, there’s also the initial fine. Distracted driving laws in Canada vary by province, and the following chart outlines the penalties:
Province/Territory Minimum Penalties British Columbia $167 fine and 3 demerit points Alberta $287 fine and 3 demerit points Saskatchewan $280 fine and 4 demerit points Manitoba $200 fine and 5 demerit points Ontario $490 fine and 3 demerit points Quebec $115 fine and 4 demerit points New Brunswick $172.50 and 3 demerit points Nova Scotia $233.95 and 4 demerit points Prince Edward Island $500 fine and 5 demerit points Newfoundland & Labrador $100 plus and 4 demerit points Northwest Territories $322 fine and 3 demerit points Yukon Territory $250 fine and 3 demerit points Nunavut N/A
Avoid driving distracted
Taking that call or answering that text, simply isn’t worth the potential consequences. It’s too risky and costly. Avoid temptation and turn off your device while driving, or if you really must reach out to someone, pull over first.