Ontario Lawyer Distracted Driving Laws: Prevention and Options

Auto accidents, and resultant injury, in Ottawa and other parts of Ontario are often caused when drivers become distracted by cell phones and other digital devices.

And in a world where Blackberries, iPhones, and other wireless devices are increasingly used for work outside of business hours, drivers have to try harder to fight that distraction.

A CareerBuilder Canada study published in March found that 51 per cent of Canadian workers regularly check and use their cell phones while driving. In addition, 15 per cent of survey respondents said their companies require them to be accessible by phone outside of the workplace.

Professional pressures regularly tempt workers to try juggling those work-related conversations and correspondence with their immediate task: driving safely. But in Ontario, choosing to do so is a dangerous idea with very real consequences.

Cell Phones, Vehicles, and the Law

In October of 2009, the provincial government passed legislation banning the use of cell phones and other wireless entertainment devices while behind the wheel. As a result, drivers caught talking or typing on a wireless device can be pulled over and fined up to $500.

If a driver gets into an auto accident while using any such device, the consequences are much more serious. If it is found that one of the drivers in an Ontario car accident was using a cell phone or other device, that driver is very likely to be found at fault for the accident and charged with Careless Driving.

Drivers convicted with Careless Driving in Ontario must pay a fine between $400 and $2000, and receive six demerit points on their driving record. In addition, having an at-fault accident on your record will increase your insurance premiums by 50 per cent, and a history of careless driving is likely to drive those premiums even higher.

Your Options as an Employee

Ontario and several other provinces are “fault jurisdictions,” where employers may share liability for a cell-phone-related accident.

If the cell phone or wireless device was issued to the driver by his or her workplace, that employer is directly liable, and the accident victim has a strong case to bring forward against them. If the cell phone or device was a personal purchase, but was being used for business purposes at the time of the accident, then the employer is vicariously liable and can still be challenged for compensation.

Driving Safety Tips for Wireless-Connected Workers

–          You cannot be obligated, by your employer, to answer work-related phone calls while driving.

–          Turn off your cell phone before you begin driving. If you are expecting a phone call concerning urgent matters and must leave it on, pull over in a safe location before answering or checking the device.

If you have been in a serious car accident involving a driver who was violating Ontario’s law against using hand-held devices while driving, contact the Ottawa injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth by email [email protected] or telephone 613 233-4529.

About the Author: Brenda Hollingsworth

Brenda Hollingsworth co-founded Ottawa’s Auger Hollingsworth in 2005 with her husband Richard Auger. Together, their mission was to create a personal injury law firm for Eastern Ontario that is unrivalled in the province for customer service and legal expertise. Brenda was named an Ottawa Business Journal Forty Under 40 award recipient and took home the Women’s Business Network’s Businesswoman of the Year award in the Professional category. She was also recognized as one of Ottawa Life Magazine’s “Top 50 People in the Capital.” She is often quoted as an expert and has appeared in media outlets such as CTV, The Globe and Mail, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Sun Media, CBC, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, CFRA and many legal publications.

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