Distracted driving deaths up 36% over 2 years in Ontario: report

Insurance comparison site released a distracted driving analysis Thursday, using official provincial numbers.
Insurance comparison site released a distracted driving analysis Thursday, using official provincial numbers. Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press

The number of deaths related to distracted driving in Ontario is up 36 per cent over two years, according to a new report.

Insurance aggregator released its latest distracted driving analysis Thursday, using official provincial numbers, and pointed out that about 18 per cent of fatal collisions in Ontario are caused by distracted driving.

In 2022, 105 deaths in the province were connected to distracted driving cases, while some 348 fatalities were connected to similar occurrences across Canada.

The number has been rising year over year since 2020, with 94 deaths during that term and some 77 fatalities in 2021.

Since 2019 there has been an upward trend in fatal collisions connected to distracted driving in Ontario, moving to 17.9 per cent in 2022 compared with 14.4 three years ago. Province of Ontario

Over the last five years, 2017 produced the highest number of deaths in Ontario attributed to distracted driving, when 107 instances were revealed.

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Ontario road data revealed 105 people died in traffic crashes caused by distracted driving for all of 2022. It’s 28 more deaths than in 2019, an increase of 36 per cent in two years. Province of Ontario

Transport Canada estimates some 19.7 per cent of road deaths, or about 348 victims, are believed to have occurred in 2021 as a result of fatal collisions connected with distracted driving.

Ontario’s laws define distracted driving as any action that takes the driver’s attention away from the road and causes them to divert their attention.

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The Ministry of Transportation specifically singles out the “use of hand-held communication/entertainment devices and certain display screens,” like phones and GPS devices, as a primary cause.

Only hands-free wireless communications devices with earpieces, lapel buttons or Bluetooth are allowed as an alternative.

Eating, drinking, grooming, smoking, reading and reaching for objects are not actually written into Ontario’s law. However, police patrols have the authorization to charge individuals when they believe said acts are contributing to a dangerous practice.

Ontarians face a minimum fine of $616 for a distracted violation, one of the highest penalties in the country.

If a case goes to court, the fine could balloon to $1,000 if an accused loses.

Additionally, it could cost a driver three demerit points and a three-day suspension for a first offence and up to six demerit points and a 30-day suspension for three or more convictions.

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