In January the Police focused on pedestrian safety – I would like to report that they reduced the number of pedestrians crossing on a red light or jaywalking but given the extra-cold January I did very little walking in the month and certainly saw no foot patrolling police or anyone warned. Perhaps they can repeat this program in mid-summer. But in February their “Selective Traffic Enforcement Project (S.T.E.P.) for the month of February will focus on distracted driving in Cobourg.” They quote scary figures by the CAA on how “Drivers engaged in visual-manual interactions with cell phones (e.g., texting) are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash” and “Drivers conversing on mobile devices, either hands-free or hand-held are up to four times as likely to be involved in a crash”.
I thought hands-free was OK and quite legal so I checked at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation site (Link below).
What they say is that it’s against the law to:
- operate hand-held communication and electronic entertainment devices while you’re driving
- view display screens unrelated to your driving
Expanding on this they say that “you can use any device that you do not touch, hold or manipulate while driving, other than to activate or deactivate it. Actions like dialing or scrolling through contacts are not allowed.” So my car’s built-in hands-free connection to the phone in my pocket is OK.
You must not use a device at a Traffic light or pulled over on the 401 (you can only stop there for an emergency). There is an exception to these rules if you are calling 911.
The Police warn that that they could lay the following charges:
- Drive – hand–held communication device;
- Drive – hand–held entertainment device;
- Drive – display screen visible to driver; and
- Careless Driving.
The above fines start at $490.00 and go up to $2000.00, with demerit points from 3 to 6, depending on the HTA charge laid.
To be fair, the Police are not planning to give out tickets if you are using hands-free but the CAA statistics imply that you can be distracted with or without a hands-free connection.
- MTO FAQs on Distracted Driving
- RIDE program and Pedestrian Patrol (Post on Cobourg Blog) – 4 January 2018
- CAA Distracted Driving Statistics