Ontario’s new distracted driving bill takes effect: Insurers offer tips for drivers

Toronto, ON – October 22, 2009 – Ontario’s Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act comes into effect on Monday, October 26, 2009. Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) commends the government for taking this important step to combat distracted driving.

Ontario’s new law against distracted driving will prohibit, while driving, the use of any electronic device with a display screen, communication device, or entertainment device that is not firmly attached to a vehicle’s dashboard. This includes MP3 players and GPS devices. Ontario is the fourth province to enact a ban on cellphone use while driving, and the first to extend the ban to all hand-held electronic devices.

Robert Tremblay, Director of Research, IBC, said insurers welcome the new law, and applaud officials for moving so quickly. “Three years ago, no one in Ontario was talking about driver distraction,” said Tremblay. “Today, driving while talking on a cellphone or being otherwise distracted is recognized as one of the most serious road safety issues in the country.”

Ontario’s new distracted driving law means drivers will have to change their habits when it comes to using prohibited devices. However, Tremblay stresses that safe driving goes beyond simply obeying legislation since distractions come in many forms. “Using hands-free devices while driving is certainly better than using hand-held devices, but not using any distracting devices, or participating in any distracting behaviour at all, is the best policy.”

To help Ontario’s drivers minimize distractions, Canada’s home, car and business insurers put together a helpful tip sheet on how to avoid being a distracted driver.

IBC has been at the forefront of the distracted driving issue for the past three years, promoting awareness of the dangers of distracted driving through research, ad campaigns and community outreach. IBC’s Be Smart. Be Safe. injury prevention tour, featuring the popular D.U.M.B. (Distractions Undermining Motorist Behaviour) Car, has visited over 100 communities across Ontario. To date, almost 16,000 Ontarians have test driven the D.U.M.B. Car.

Tips for Avoiding Distractions While Driving From Canada’s home, car and business insurers

  1. Eat before driving so you won’t be tempted to juggle distracting snacks behind the wheel.
  2. Pull over and park before using a cellphone or other hand-held electronic device.
  3. Have a “driving” playlist on your MP3 player and start it playing before you set the car in motion. That way, you won’t be fumbling to find a good song while driving.
  4. If something falls, leave it. Never reach for an object while driving, unless it is impeding with your ability to control the car; in which case, pull over and deal with it.
  5. Deal with predictable distractions before hitting the road. Check the map, adjust the seat, the climate control and the radio, and familiarize yourself with the dashboard controls, before taking the car out of park.
  6. If you are driving with pets, make sure they are safely secured and in the back seat.
  7. Put aside enough time to complete your grooming before you set out, so you won’t have to apply make-up, comb your hair or shave while driving.
  8. Listen to your GPS device; don’t look at it.
  9. Make all necessary wardrobe changes before you enter the car.
  10. If a situation can’t wait � the kids are acting up in the back seat, or you need to refer to a map or take an emergency call � pull over somewhere safe to deal with it.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent nearly 95% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 110,000 Canadians, pays more than $6 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $38 billion.

To view news releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at www.ibc.ca.