There is no doubt that COVID-19 has led to fewer vehicles on the road, especially in highly populated urban areas like Toronto. Many drivers may be using this as an opportunity to feel more at ease while driving, resulting in increased phone distraction.
Distracted Driving: New Rules
Provinces across Canada are rolling out stricter laws to combat this primary and significant cause of motor vehicle accidents.
As of June 8, 2020, those with a standard G license convicted of distracted driving will suffer the following penalties:
First time offence:
- $1,500 automatic fine
- Fine increases to $2,000 if convicted in Court
- 3 demerit points
- 3-day license suspension
If you are convicted a second time, the consequences are stiffer:
- $4,000 automatic fine
- 7-day license suspension
- 6 demerit points added to your record
Driving Behaviour Since Covid-19
People are taking the opportunity with the reduced number of vehicles on the road to experiment with stunt driving and speeding.
As reported by Global News, between March 23 and April 27, 2020 Toronto police reported 222 stunt driving incidents; a rise of 600% in comparison to 2019.
That being said, the number of motor vehicle accidents has dramatically reduced. As CTV has reported, by the end of April, 2020 Toronto Police saw a 79% reduction in motor vehicle accidents.
Response by Insurance Companies
With fewer drivers on the road, as reported by the Financial Post, insurers are responding by either reducing or rebating customers’ premium fees.
Texting and Driving During Covid-19: The Take Away
Texting while driving is a serious issue in North America and Canada. As reported by BlogTO, distracted driving accounts for 4,000,000 car accidents in North America annually and 60% of moderate or severe accidents involving teens. Checking your phone while driving increases the chance of a car accident by 8 times.
Since COVID-19 there are fewer vehicles on the road, but some drivers are taking this opportunity to speed and drive erratically.
While seeing fewer vehicles on the road will give drivers less anxiety and more comfort, it could also lead to increased phone distractions.
Don’t get too comfortable with less vehicles on the road. Canada has taken the opportunity during this time to introduce significant penalties for distracted driving. It is simply not worth it.