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New fines for distracted drivers
Distracted driving fines start February 1
By Bill Roebuck
On February 1, 2010, Ontario police will begin issuing tickets for using hand-held cell phones and communications and entertainment devices while driving in the province.
Drivers caught using a hand-held device will be issued a $155 ticket. If a driver challenges the ticket in court, a judge has the discretion to adjust the fine anywhere in the range of $60 to $500.
Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash than a driver focused on the road. Dialling and texting carry the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities.
Since the ban on hand-held devices became Ontario law on October 26, 2009, the focus has been on educating drivers about the new road rules for hand-held wireless communication and entertainment devices. This education period was intended to give drivers a chance to adjust to the new law.
The distracted driving law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or e-mail using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. Hands-free use of these devices is permitted. The new law also prohibits the viewing of display screens unrelated to driving, such as laptop computers or DVD players.
Police, paramedics and firefighters, as well as some commercial drivers and public service workers, may continue to use certain hand-held devices when performing their duties. All drivers may use hand-held devices to call 9-1-1.
Since the ban on hand-held devices became Ontario law, the Ontario Provincial Police have issued more than 3,300 warnings to drivers.
Posted February 1, 2010.