53% admit to having driven distracted by their cellphones - SURVEY

Despite increased penalties for distracted driving, poll results released Tuesday by Canada’s second-largest auto insurer indicate even more motorists are engaging in this risky behaviour.

More than half (53%) of respondents to a survey admit to having driven distracted by their cellphones at least once, up from 38% last year, Desjardins General Insurance Group said Tuesday in a release.

The online survey of 3,500 Canadians was conducted in March 2019.

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In Ontario, it is against the law to physically touch a cellphone while driving.

Five years ago, the minimum fine for distracted driving in Ontario was $60 while the maximum fine was $500.  Those fines were increased in 2015 and then increased a second time effective Jan. 1, 2019.

In Saskatchewan, the penalty for a second offence is vehicle impoundment for seven days, Saskatchewan Government Insurance told Canadian Underwriter earlier. SGI has the power to impose penalties – above and beyond provincial fines – for driving offences.

Effective Jan. 1 in Ontario, the minimum fine for a first offence is $500 and first-time offenders can face a three-day licence suspension. Distracted drivers who are caught a second time face a one-week licence suspension and repeat offenders with more than two distracted driving charges face 30-day suspensions of their driver’s licences. Maximum fines are now $1,000 for a first offence, $2,000 for a second offence and $3,000 for a third offence.

Fines don't seem to be working.

Technology apps like eBrake can help to reduce distracted driving because, unlike other solutions in the market, eBrake cannot be "gamed" or simply "turned off" by a driver when driving.

Here are a few eBrake features:

  • Automatically locks device when motion is detected
  • Blocks incoming notifications / distractions
  • Driver cannot pretend to be a passenger and unlock device when driving
  • No hardware needed