What counts as distracted driving in Ontario?

What counts as distracted driving? The Ontario Ministry of Transportation defines “distracted driving” as improper use of handheld communication and or entertainment devices while behind the wheel.


Whether you’re driving, stopped in traffic or waiting at a red light, it is illegal to:

  • Operate cell phones to talk, text, type, dial or email
  • Operate a tablet, laptop, music player or portable gaming console
  • View unrelated display screens (e.g. A YouTube video, TikTok)
  • Program a GPS device by hand


Texting distracts you physically, visually and cognitively. You’re 23 TIMES MORE LIKELY to get in a collision if you are texting and driving. Because of this, the month of April was dedicated to bringing awareness to the serious issue that is distracted driving.


Possible distractions inside a vehicle:

  • Navigation system (GPS)
  • Smoking
  • Eating and drinking
  • Personal grooming
  • Conversations with passengers
  • Listening to music
  • Pets and animals
  • Cell phones
  • Reading a map
  • Children
  • Adjusting controls (AC, heat, etc)


Possible distractions outside a vehicle:

  • Scenery
  • Cyclists
  • Other vehicles
  • Construction
  • Motorcycles
  • Street noise
  • Reading advertisements
  • Pedestrians
  • Crash scene


Some tips to keep yourself focused on driving and far away from distracted practices include:

  • Whenever possible, leave a few minutes early so you can arrive at your destination stress-free. Rushing tends to promote distraction and taking unnecessary risks.
  • Don’t get distracted by big billboards, storefronts or activities happening alongside the road.
  • Keep your eyes on what’s in front of you and pay attention to what other vehicles are doing. Don’t rubberneck at crash scenes. Sure, you want to see, but do you have to see?
  • You always need to be alert and on the lookout for potential dangers.
  • If you feel like your mind is wandering to some problem at work or at home, pull off the road. Work on the problem when your safely parked and then resume your drive.
  • On long drives, take breaks to rest your eyes.
  • Ask yourself: Is it worth taking your focus away from driving to attend to another task?

The penalty for a distracted driving charge can range from $615 to $3000 with demerit points and up to a 90-day licence suspension. These penalties are determined by what level driver you are and how many offences have occurred.

Whether you’re driving, waiting in traffic or at a stop sign/light, it is important to not get distracted. Young Drivers of Canada provides top tier learning experiences and shows you the best ways to not get distracted. Once you have arrived at your destination safely, be sure to check us out at YD.com or on our social channels.


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Sources: Ontario.ca