Ottawa winters give you plenty of distractions, with icy or snowy roads, snowplows, reduced visibility due to blowing snow and worrying about being late because of the poor conditions. Not to mention that not everyone is confident driving in winter conditions. These are even more reasons why you should never text while driving or let your cell phone or smartwatch distract you, even in the handsfree mode.
It’s so tempting to glance down quickly and even send a quick reply. Just don’t. Instead:
- Plan your trip ahead so you don’t need to check for directions enroute
- Set your phone to ‘Do not disturb’ while you’re driving
- If you have to check your phone or respond, pull over somewhere safe, well off the road
- If you have a passenger, give them control of your phone
A first conviction for distracted driving includes a fine of up to $1,000, three demerit points and a three-day license suspension. For novice drivers (with an M1, M2, G1 or G2 class license) the suspension is 30 days.
The law is intended to discourage distractions because they lead to serious injuries and death. In Ottawa between 2017 and 2021, there were 79 fatal or major injury collisions in Ottawa related to distracted driving.
There's a longer-term risk with distracted driving. According to Parachute Canada, a national charity dedicated to injury prevention, when children see their parents or caregivers using phones while driving it increases the likelihood that the children will text and drive when they grow up. You need to lead by example.
- Our website has tips on how to avoid dangerous driving distractions.
- The Ottawa Police Service’s Leave The Phone Alone webpage has a wealth of information on distraction-free driving, including for young people who are not yet licensed drivers, and a nation-wide campaign to ‘Take the Pledge’.
- The Ontario government website has excellent general winter driving tips, including how to stay safe around snowplows.
We are all vulnerable to distractions, especially from our phones and smartwatches. This winter and all year ‘round, eliminate distractions while you’re behind the wheel and avoid the costs of a distracted driving conviction and the personal tragedy of a fatal or major injury collision.