Distractions While Driving - Cell Phone and Other Devices
Activities that impact a driver’s ability to focus on the road come in a wide range of forms, from visual distractions inside and outside the vehicle, to cognitive distractions when using electronic devices. In fact, research indicates that drivers fail to process approximately 50 per cent of the visual information in their driving environment when they are using electronic communication devices.
While texting on a communications device is often recognized as the riskiest behaviour, distractions such as seeking for preferred music or attending to personal grooming can significantly divert a driver’s attention. Research has also concluded that telephone conversations are much more distracting than in-vehicle conversations – perhaps because passengers can observe the road, provide warning, adjust conversation tone according to traffic conditions, and the like – while telephone conversations contain fewer pauses and demand greater cognitive resources.
Research evidence has shown that approximately one-quarter of crashes can be attributed to driver distraction: attention being diverted from driving tasks. This can result in significant costs to society, such as: tragic loss of life, serious injuries, health expenses, property damage and insurance rates.
Rules and Penalties
The Motor Vehicle Act, Part 3.1 — Use of Electronic Devices While Driving specifically addresses the use of electronic devices while driving. A driver found guilty of using a hand-held electronic device while driving may receive a traffic violation ticket and if the driving offender was using the device for texting or other digital message writing, the traffic violation ticket also comes with penalty points. Offences and infractions that include penalty points can lead to a driving prohibition.
Stricter limitations are imposed on drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) as risks are demonstrated to be higher among new and young drivers due to a combination of inexperience, a tendency toward greater risk-taking, and significantly higher than average use of electronic devices – all combined, makes this group of drivers particularly vulnerable.
For these drivers (GLP: 'L's and 'N's) violation tickets can be issued for any electronic distraction, including hands-free devices and always comes with 3 penalty points. As well, the driving record of any GLP driver with 3 points or more will automatically undergo a review by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles – see the Driver Improvement Program page on this site. If the Superintendent issues a driving prohibition to a driver in the Novice stage, the 24-month Novice driving period starts over when the prohibition ends and the novice driver gets re-licensed.
Devices Banned from Use While Driving and Devices Permitted
For a list of the various devices banned from use while driving and those permitted, as well as associated penalty points and violation ticket amounts see information on: