New fines for distracted driving will change the rules of the road in Ontario. Here are the six top things you should know about the proposed legislation:

  • The legislation is expected to pass in a vote early this spring and has all-party support.
  • Fines for distracted driving jump from $155 to $280 today (Tuesday) regardless of the legislation. Annemarie Bonkalo, chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, decreed that last month in a judicial order.
  • Fines range from $300 to $1,000, along with three demerit points, for using cellphones while driving, under the changes to the Highway Traffic Act.
  • Fines range from $300 to $1,000, and three demerit points, for opening a door in the path of a cyclist. Motorists would have to keep one metre from cyclists on the road.
  • Fines range from $60 to $500 for cyclists not using required lights and reflectors.

What exactly is distracted driving? According to Const. Clint Stibbe, with the Toronto police's Traffic Services, distracted driving occurs any time a person is operating a motor vehicle while holding a mobile device. This means the device doesn't need to be turned on, and the car can't just be stopped; the device must be located away from the driver, and the car must be fully parked. For example, using a mobile device while stopped at a red light can still result in a ticket, Stibbe told the Star.