Ontario Calls for Tougher Penalties for Distracted Driving

Just a few days after announcing new measures cracking down on drug-impaired drivers, Ontario is setting its sights on one of the biggest dangers on its roads – distracted drivers.


new report from the National Post details the planned amendment to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), specifically aimed to protect pedestrians and cyclists. Motorists who hurt or kill through careless driving could face fines of up to $50,000 and two years in jail under new legislation proposed by the Ontario government, reads the report.

“Ontario’s driving legislation currently has no offence for careless driving causing death, with careless driving carrying maximum penalties of six months of jail time, $2,000 in fines, plus demerit points and a licence suspension,” reads the report. “But safety and cycling advocates have called for much stronger penalties.”

Among the changes:

  • Careless drivers who cause bodily harm or death will face a maximum of $50,000 in fines, two years in jail, a five year license suspension and six demerit points.
  • Distracted drivers will face a license suspension of three days (a first in Canada), a maximum $1,000 fine and escalating penalties for further offences.
  • Drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians will face a maximum $1,000 fine and four demerit points.
  • Commercial drivers will be subject to a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy, with a license suspension of three days for violations.

This kind of legislation has been needed across Canada for quite some time; pedestrians and cyclists are often killed and the penalties are small; the person charged often doesn’t even have to show up in court, as charges would be pleaded down from criminal offences to Highway Traffic Act offences with much lower penalties.

“Ontario is taking action to reduce the number of people killed by impaired, distracted and dangerous drivers,” the province’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said.

“These measures will help keep some of our most vulnerable road users safe and help us drive home the message that dangerous, impaired and distracted driving is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.”