Most Canadians think texting while driving should be a criminal offense: survey

Canadians have differing ideas on what other kinds of distractions should be considered criminal offenses

Toronto, ON (Mar. 19, 2014) – A new survey conducted by finds that 84 per cent of Canadians think texting while driving should be a criminal offence, but we are more polarized on other distracted driving habits.

This does not come as a surprise considering distracted driving fatalities in Ontario surpassed both impaired driving-related and speed-related fatalities last year, according to the Ontario Provincial Police, who are finishing a distracted driving campaign.

Distracted driving is not currently a criminal offence in Canada, but penalties are beginning to become more stringent. If a driver is caught using a handheld device such as a mobile phone a driver can be fined. In Ontario, those fines are set to double as of March 18 to $280. Depending on the nature of the offence, a driver could also potentially be charged with careless driving, which may result in steeper fines, license suspensions, and possibly jail time.

In all cases, these implications affect insurance rates.

“There are many habits that most drivers are guilty of that could have severe consequences,” says Sean Graham, principal broker at “For example, texting at a red light can result in a ticket fine of $280, plus an insurance premium increase, which is typically an average increase of $75 per year in Ontario. And this conviction stays on a person’s record for three years. Not to mention the possibility of an accident because you are no longer paying attention to the road.”

Although the fine increase only applies to hand held devices, phones are not the only concern when it comes to distracted driving. Distracted driving encompasses anything that takes a drivers focus off the road—from changing a song on an iPod, to putting on lipstick, to paying attention to a crying baby in the back seat.

While Canadians agreed that texting while driving should be a definite criminal offence, the survey found that Canadians have differing ideas on what other kinds of distractions should be considered criminal offenses. Seventy-six per cent of those surveyed thought putting on makeup while driving should also be a criminal offense, and while 58 per cent think that distracted driving should be a criminal offence in general, only 33 per cent of Canadians were convinced of the dangers of eating while driving, for example.

Survey Results

Canadians weigh in on whether each of these distracted driving behaviours should be a criminal offence:

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted from February 28, 2014 to March 3, 2014 with Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb Panel. The sample size was 1502 Canadian drivers 18 years of age and older. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

About Kanetix

Launched in October 1999, Kanetix was Canada’s first online insurance quotes marketplace and today provides over a million quotes per year to consumers looking for lower insurance rates, as well as comparisons for mortgage rates and credit cards.

The Kanetix comparison service is a one-stop shopping environment for consumers. Each day, thousands visit the Kanetix website at to comparison shop their various financial needs. Shoppers choose what they want to compare, obtain a quotation and complete an online application or, with the help of Kanetix connect with the provider to purchase or apply for the product over the phone.

Through its Software as a Service team, Kanetix is also the leading provider of online insurance quotation technology, developing online quotation systems, mobile solutions, actuarial tools and websites for many of Canada’s largest insurance brands.

SOURCE: Kanetix

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