Many Ontario drivers are still unclear on the details of the "Making Ontario Roads Safer Act,” known more commonly as the "distracted driving laws.” Penalties for being busted under the new act are severe, with fines ranging anywhere from $300 up to $1,000. That's not to mention the accumulation of demerit points and the impact on your insurance rates.
Here is what you need to know to keep on the right side of these new regulations.
Keep your hands on the wheel
Under these rules, any kind of hands-on interaction with a cell phone, MP3 player, tablet, or gaming device while at the wheel is an immediate offense. Even at red lights, in traffic jams, or on empty roads, just changing the song can cost you $300.
If you are having trouble adjusting, you may want to look into a hands-free option. Voice activated speaker phones can still be used without penalty, as can any other devices controlled with simple voice commands, while keeping both hands on the wheel.
Eyes on the prize
Many of us are dependent on our GPS devices. This could land you in hot water if you are using your phone or similar device especially if it’s in your lap, in the drink tray, or on the passenger seat. If it makes you take your eyes off the road, it's a problem.
GPS devices should always be mounted at dashboard level, so they can be checked without taking attention away from the road. There are plenty of aftermarket mounts out there and ten dollars spent on one of them could save you hundreds on a fine.
A few other curve balls under new regulations
How times change. In the past you could have been docked points on a driving test for waiting for pedestrians to completely clear the crosswalk instead of turning as soon as they left the lane. Today that could cost you $150 to $500.
When at a stop with pedestrians crossing, you need to make sure they are touching the other sidewalk before proceeding. Yes, it can be frustrating to those who lack patience, but getting slapped with a huge fine is even more infuriating.
While you're probably already familiar with the Steer Clear laws involving police officers and emergency responders at the side of the road, they've now been expanded to tow trucks and cyclists with fines starting at $490. Make sure to give anyone stuck in a vulnerable position on the side of the road a wide berth so long as it is safe to do so. It's the polite and safe thing to do. Slow down and move over!
You should also know that the penalties for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol have also been stiffly increased under the new act.
Now you know…..be safe out there!