Blog What You Need To Know About Texting And Driving In Ontario

Feb 24, 2020

Ontario Texting And Driving Fines, Penalties And Why You Shouldn't Do It

Man in black shirt on his phone while driving

The dangers of texting and driving cannot be overstated. Texting while driving is a serious issue on roads. It is one of the leading causes of car accidents, injuries, and deaths on roadways.

Do you really need to check that text? Do you really need to send that text right now – when driving? While we all know the answer to these questions, there are still countless drivers who choose to text while driving and put themselves and others in danger.

Texting and driving accidents happen all the time. On any given day, no matter where you are driving, you can probably come across another driver texting and driving.

This post will discuss the dangers of texting and driving, look at statistics and facts, fines, laws, and answer common questions about this dangerous driving practice. This risky behaviour can also affect your car insurance quotes.

What Is Texting And Driving?

Texting and driving is the act of writing, reading, and sending text messages or emails using your phone while driving a vehicle. It is a form of distracted driving and it is illegal. Drivers caught texting while driving are subject to fines and demerit points.

This means that you are not permitted to use your phone when operating a vehicle. There is no sending, receiving or reading texts, no checking email, and no surfing the web. In fact, you could even get a ticket if you are holding your cell phone in your hand while driving, even if you are not using it. So, it’s best to put your phone away to avoid even the temptation of picking it up when behind the wheel.

Why Do People Continue To Text And Drive?

Every though we know it’s dangerous, drivers continue to do it. Why?

  • We think we are good multitaskers.
  • We have a need to be constantly connected.
  • We are addicted to our phones.
  • We don’t think it can happen to us.
  • We get bored when driving and we have short attention spans.

What Are The Texting And Driving Statistics?

Here are some very telling statistics on accidents caused by texting and driving :

  • Texting and driving makes an accident 23 times more likely.
  • Dialing your phone increase your chances of an accident by 2.8 times.
  • 1 in 5 drivers confess to surfing the web while driving.
  • 33% of Canadians admit to texting and driving while stopped at a red light.
  • 26% of all crashes involve phone use.
  • Smartphones are the most common form of distraction for drivers.
  • 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% of those admitted to still doing it.
  • 25% of teens report that answer a text once or more every time they drive.
  • Texting while driving results in 400% more time with a driver’s eyes off the road.
  • 77% of adults and 55% of teen drivers believe they can easily manage texting while simultaneously navigating the road.
  • At any given time throughout the day, approximately 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of an automobile.

Important Facts About Texting And Driving

Woman with blonde hair on her phone while driving

Still not convinced about the dangers of texting while driving? Check out these texting and driving facts from TeenSafe :

  • It takes only 3 seconds after a driver’s attention has been diverted for a crash to occur.
  • Making even the most basic text takes a minimum of 5 seconds of your attention off of the road when you text and drive. You’ll drive about the length of a football field in about 5 seconds.
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO) is one of the main reasons it’s so difficult to resist checking texts while driving.
  • It takes 27 seconds after using a hands-free device to get back into driving mode.
  • An incoming text notification will increase dopamine levels. This creates a compulsion to check your phone, even though we know it is dangerous.

What Is The Fine For Texting And Driving In Ontario?

Ontario's minimum fine for texting and driving is $615 for the first conviction. The maximum fine is $3000.

The texting and driving laws fall under the distracted driving laws in the province. If you are caught for texting and driving tickets, you are subject to the same penalties.

You may also be subject to a larger fine and additional charges, such as careless driving, if you are found to endanger others while texting and driving.

What Is The Penalty For Texting And Driving Ticket?

Drivers are subject to additional penalties in addition to fines if caught texting while driving. For the first conviction the minimum penalty is 3 demerit points and a 3 day license suspension.

A second offence could land you a $2000 fine, 6 points and a 7 day suspension.

Caught a third time? You'll be fined up to $3000, 6 points and a 30 day suspension.

A texting and driving ticket can also negatively impact your Ontario car insurance and make it more difficult for you to find coverage.

What Are The Dangers Of Texting And Driving?

Numerous texting while driving studies have been conducted, and it’s clear that getting a texting while driving ticket is not the only danger of using your phone when driving. You could get into an at-fault accident, lose control of your vehicle and cause serious injury or even kill someone – including yourself.

Getting a texting and driving ticket is only one of the many dangers of texting and driving :

Why You Shouldn't Text While You Are Driving

Choosing to not text and drive is beneficially for you and for all other drivers. Here are the top benefits of not texting and driving :

  • Fewer accidents : If more drivers would focus on the road, there would be fewer accidents.
  • Increased road safety : Road safety overall would increase. Drivers would be more aware of their surroundings.
  • Reduce risk : There is a reduced risk for yourself, other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and anyone else using roads in the province.
  • Keep clean driving record : Choosing not to text and drive, reduces the odds of car crashes, helping to maintain your clean driving record and keep Toronto car insurance costs low.
  • Setting a good example : Choosing to not text and drive sets a good example for passengers, children, and other drivers - lead by example.

How Many Deaths A Year Are Caused By Texting And Driving?

Texting and driving deaths are a serious issue. They are also preventable. In addition to causing more than half a million injuries each year, it’s estimated that about 11 teens die every day as a result of texting and driving. And this is just teens – about 4000 total deaths per year in the U.S.!


How Do You Report Texting And Driving?

If you witness a driver engaging in texting and driving or other dangerous driving actions, you can report them to your local police department. If you are driving on the highway, you can report them to the OPP.

If there is immediate danger, call 911. If there is no immediate danger, you can file a report on your local police station website. Make sure to get the vehicle details, including the license plate number.

Why Are So Many Teens Texting While Driving?

Person with phone on steering wheel

Teens have become synonymous with texting and driving. A significant percentage of teen drivers are continuing to text and drive, despite the well-known dangers of the illegal activity.

The Ontario-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released a report indicating that a large percentage of students are texting and driving.

High School Students That Text While Driving

  • Grades 10 to 12 : More than 33% of in grades 10 to 12 say they have texted while driving at least once in the past year.
  • Grade 12 Only : For students in grade 12, the number climbed to 46% who have texted while driving.

Dr. Robert Mann, Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator at CAMH, stated :

We asked about texting while driving because research shows this is very dangerous behaviour. We were surprised to find that so many young people take this risk.

In reporting on the results of the 2013 Ontario Students Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS), a CBC article includes a link to video of CBC’s John Northcott, who comments on the numbers :

When you realize that the increase and the possibility of an accident when driving and texting increases twenty-fold, this is why they are concerned about this.
The irony here is that they seem to have the message on drinking and driving, yet they don’t realize that in terms of impairment, in terms of your ability to control the vehicle, texting is and can be just as bad as a few drinks, stated Mr. Northcott.

Another study, this one by Public Health Ontario, found a similar trend in the number of teens who text and drive. The study found :

  • Sometimes : 40.5% of teens sometimes read texts and 32.6% send texts while driving.
  • Almost Always : About 6% almost always read texts, about 4% almost always sent texts while driving.
  • Always : About 1% always read and send texts while driving.

What Are The Main Reasons People Text And Drive?

The Public Health Ontario study, while geared toward young drivers, still sheds some light as to why people still text and drive :

What are the top reasons people read texts while driving?

  • Looking for directions.
  • They think the incoming message is important.
  • Because the message is coming from someone they deem important.
  • Non-stressful traffic conditions.
  • Work-related message.
  • An unexpected message.
  • They are driving at low speed.
  • Good weather conditions.

What are the top reasons people send texts while driving?

  • They are at a stop light.
  • They need directions.
  • They need to send an important message.
  • No police in sight.
  • They think it is safe to send a message.
  • To report a medical emergency.
  • No traffic.

What Is Being Done About Texting and Driving?

It is widely recognized all forms of distracted driving are a safety risk. Here are some of the things that are being done about texting and driving :

  • Awareness campaigns : Creating awareness about the danger of texting and driving is paramount. There are many local, national, and online groups that are working to spread the word about the risks associated with texting while driving.
  • Police Blitz : The police frequently run texting blitz campaigns to catch drivers texting and driving.
  • Stiffer penalties : Texting and driving laws continue to change. Fines and penalties are increasing.
  • Education : Driver training and educational programs are being amended to educate new and young drivers about safe driving practices.

What Are The Best Tips To Prevent Texting And Driving?

Preventing texting and driving starts with you, the driver. It’s up to you to choose to not engage in texting and driving when you get behind the wheel. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is dedicate yourself to being a safe driver.

Here are some ways you can minimize the temptation to text and drive :

  • Turn Your Phone Off : Turn your phone off or put it on silent mode when you are driving.
  • Keep Your Phone Out Of Reach : Put your phone out of reach so you won't be tempted to use it.
  • Give Your Phone Up : Give your phone to a passenger in your car and let them do your texting.
  • Set up auto text while driving : This phone feature will automatically respond to text messages when you are driving.

What Are The Best Apps To Prevent Texting And Driving?

An additional texting and driving prevention tip is to use a prevention app. These apps can block calls, read texts and emails out loud, are hands free, and offer customized options to ensure you do what is most important – focusing on driving.

You can use an app to turn off texting while driving. These apps are available for iPhone and Android devices. Apps to prevent texting are becoming more popular. Choose the app you find most effective.

Here are some apps to stop texting while driving :

If you have trouble keeping your hands off your phone when driving, try one of these apps.

Texting And Driving FAQs

Here are some more questions and answers about texting and driving :

It is estimated that more than 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phone while driving at any given moment.

Yes. It is illegal to text while at a red light, stop sign, and when stopped in traffic. You are not permitted to use your phone when your vehicle is in motion or stopped while driving.

Texting and driving has become the number one road safety risk today. It’s a leading cause of car accident injuries and deaths. Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.

Fatalities related to drinking and driving are on the decline as deaths related to texting and driving are on the rise.

There are many ways police catch drivers who are texting and driving. They perform distracted driving blitz campaigns, rely on other drivers reports, and observe traffic.

Yes. You can report drivers who are texting and driving. Contact your local police department. Or call 911 if there is an immediate danger.

Distracted driving, and the use of mobile devices while driving, officially became illegal in Ontario in 2009.

Texting and driving became an issue when cell phones exploded in popularity. When mobile phones became mainstream, people started to use them in all situations, including when driving.

Take The No Texting While Driving Pledge

Many organizations encourage drivers to take a no texting while driving pledge. Have you taken the pledge? Even if you don’t formally take the pledge, you can commit to not texting while driving. Every driver who chooses to avoid the temptation to text will help make our roads safe for all.