What is a distraction?
The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) and the Strategy to Reduce Impaired Driving (STRID) have developed the following definition of driver distraction:
“Distracted driving is the diversion of attention from driving, as a result of the driver focusing on a non-driving object, activity, event, or person. This diversion reduces awareness, decision-making, or performance leading to increased risk of driver-error, near-crashes, or crashes. The diversion of attention is not attributable to a medical condition, alcohol/drug use and/or fatigue.”
What is illegal and what is not under the new law?
Telephone calls: You cannot make or take calls when driving unless your telephone is hands-free or single-touch. If there is an emergency, you can call 911. Only while driving a police, fire or ambulance vehicle are you allowed to make or take a call.
Texting: You are not allowed. Ever.
Portable GPS: You can look at your GPS screen, but you cannot program or handle it.
MP3 or other entertainment devices: You can handle built-in devices. If you have a portable device plugged in while you drive, you can listen, but you cannot touch.
Display screen: If it is built into your vehicle, it is fine. Otherwise, you cannot have it in your view.
Two-way radio: You can use a two-way radio if driving for commercial purposes or driving a commercial vehicle (a bus or vehicle with gross mass of 4,500 kg or more), or involved in an emergency operation or search-and-rescue.
What is the penalty?
Drivers who violate the legislation can be fined $172.50 and lose three points from their licence.