Driving safely requires diligence and focus on both the road and what is happening around you. There are plenty of distractions that can come with being a driver, but it is vital that you pay attention to the task at hand rather than anything else. This is because distracted driving is associated with many significant dangers and can often cause devastating accidents. Not only does this act endanger the safety of the person who chooses to drive while distracted, but it’s also incredibly hazardous to those around them.
Various studies and tests have proven that driving without paying full attention to the road can increase the risk of an accident and, as a result, cause severe injuries. If you’ve been injured in a collision where the other driver was not focusing on the road, an experienced distracted driving accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and possible next steps. This might include filing a lawsuit to secure fair compensation for your injuries. Our personal injury lawyers are here to help, and make your recovery from one of these incidents less stressful.
Defining Distracted Driving Laws and Their Penalties
Most often, cell phones are to blame for distracted driving in Ontario. Whether dialling to make a call or trying to send a quick text, the split second that a driver’s focus is not on the road can result in a collision. As this offence grew to become a major problem, in 2015 Ontario revised its existing distracted driving laws to carry harsher consequences to further deter drivers from picking up their phones while behind the wheel.
In many instances of negligent or illegal behaviour, while driving, Ontario operates on a “three strike” system. Each time you are pulled over for an offence, the repercussions increase in an effort to stop drivers from continued unsafe decisions. A first convicted offence for distracted driving will cost you up to $1,000, a license suspension of three days, and three demerit points. This point system is used as a measurement to discourage drivers from poor habits, and at 15 points, your permit to drive is automatically suspended for 30 days.
A second offence will increase the fine up to $2,000, tack on six demerit points, and result in the loss of your license for a week. Finally, upon a third or subsequent conviction of distracted driving, you’ll likely be required to pay a fine of $3,000. Another six demerit points will be added to your license, and regardless of how many points you’ve accumulated, you’ll lose it for 30 days. All of these laws are made to ensure distracted driving is taken seriously, and these penalties pale in comparison to the life-altering outcomes that could result from this irresponsible act.
Distracted Driving vs. Drunk Driving
Distracted driving has been equated with being as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some studies have compared a driver’s texting through an obstacle course to one who had above the legal blood-alcohol limit. In both cases, drivers were more likely to get into an accident than someone sober and paying attention to the road.
Drunk driving can have serious legal consequences, such as losing your license and criminal charges. Distracted driving doesn’t carry as many potential ramifications, but law enforcement is beginning to crack down on drivers they notice using mobile devices while their cars are in motion. New laws in Ontario allow courts to impose greater fines on distracted drivers, and police officers prioritize enforcing these laws.
POTENTIAL CAUSES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
As highlighted above, cell phones are one of the top causes of distracted driving. Laws state that using your phone when driving, even when stopped at a light or in bumper-to-bumper traffic, is unacceptable. Many believe their attention will only be drawn away for a quick moment, but even a split second can make all the difference in a collision.
Many other factors can distract you while behind the wheel that doesn’t involve a handheld device. In Ontario, distracted driving is an umbrella term defined as doing anything while driving that could take your attention away from the road.
For example, a conversation with the person in the passenger or back seat can pull your attention off the road. Trying to switch stations, pick a song, or change the volume on your radio can also be very distracting. You might find it a time saver to eat while driving or flip down the mirror to check your appearance, but again, your focus will not be on the road. While you can’t be charged for distracted driving in these scenarios, you could be charged with careless or dangerous driving if you have caused an accident.
Understanding the Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted drivers are more likely to commit dangerous acts that endanger their safety and other cars around them because they are unwilling to dedicate their full attention to driving. This means they could collide with other vehicles at higher speeds, enter intersections when they don’t have the right of way, or suddenly cross into opposing lanes.
This growing problem has become heightened throughout the past decade. Statistics from Transport Canada’s National Collision Database highlighted that in 2016, distracted driving caused 21% of fatal car accidents and more than a quarter of vehicular accidents that sent people to the hospital with serious injuries.
Recovering from an Accident Caused by Distracted Driving
If you’ve been the victim of a distracted driving accident in Ontario, you may be unsure of what to do next. Perhaps you have suffered an ongoing whiplash injury that doesn’t seem to recuperate. Depending on how you were hit, your spinal cord or brain functionality could have been affected, causing rippling symptoms throughout your body that can be challenging to deal with. Speed could also play a factor in your injuries, resulting in a broken bone or ongoing soft tissue problems.
The trauma from the incident could be difficult to bear on your own, and you may also suffer financially because you cannot return to work. In some cases, you may try to push through the pain and further cause yourself harm because you aren’t sure about your options. An experienced distracted driving accident lawyer can offer you compassionate advice on all of your options. This can include the opportunity to file a lawsuit to regain your lost wages, pay medical bills, and help you live in a way similar to how you once did. A civil suit can also account for your pain and suffering, which are considered intangible consequences of the accident. When determining the value of pain and suffering, changes to your quality of life and the amount of trauma you’ve experienced in your accident are some things a court might consider. At Bergeron Clifford, we can secure the compensation you deserve so that you don’t have to worry about the fiscal burdens of your injury.
Distracted driving in Ontario is sadly a common problem, and as a result, we have worked with numerous clients over the years to help them receive the funds they need to recover and live as fully as possible. Depressing thoughts or feelings should not impede your journey to recovery, if possible, or lower your quality of life. Our team will work with you to understand the specific conditions you experienced and put forth a case demonstrating the profound effect of your circumstances. Reach out to us to learn more.
Contact Bergeron Clifford injury Lawyers
Contact us if you have suffered a motor vehicle injury in Eastern Ontario. Call us at 866-384-5886 or fill out our online form. We can meet you in Kingston, Ottawa, Whitby, Carleton Place, Perth or wherever is most convenient for you.
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