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If you plan on taking a road trip to Canada, you may want to use Uber or Lyft … in silence. Distracted driving has been on the rise, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are enforcing some of the strictest distracted driving laws.
Examples of distracted driving can include driving while:
- talking and using a mobile device
- reading (e.g., books, maps)
- programming a GPS
- watching videos
- eating or drinking
- smoking or vaping
- adjusting the radio
- listening to extremely loud music
- talking to passengers
I totally get the no-texting, searching the inter-web, programming your GPS—those things can and should be done before or after. One of my biggest pet peeves is someone swerving because their head is down while they’re texting. I often want to yell out the window, “Put your phone down! You’re not that important!”
I confess, I eat and drink all the time. If I’m headed to or from the gym, I most definitely have a shaker bottle with BCAAs, protein, or pre-workout next to me. As Americans, we’re accused of being a culture of eating while drinking—so much so that in 1995, the Japanese Ministry of Transportation announced Japanese carmakers took vehicles from American owners between 1986 and 1991, and found debris from animal hair, food, and drippings of soda drinks had gummed up seatbelts, rendering them inoperable. (They essentially called us slobs.)
But what if someone has a medical condition that requires them to drink water often? Or is taking medication that makes them need more water than usual? Are these laws commanding them to ignore their doctor’s orders to consume more water, or are they requiring people to pull over before each sip? It’s absurd to think that you could get over $500 in fines and lose up to four demerit points or even lose your license over a basic human need.
What about moms in minivans? “Johnny, stop hitting your brother!” [sirens] Not only will Johnny be grounded until he’s 30 years old, but he’ll have some smart remark like, “See, mom? That’s what happens when you correct me.”
Wanna double down? The zero tolerance for distracted driving is so serious, that in Ontario, if you decide to dispute your ticket, and lose, your penalty goes up! According to Canada Drives:
“Fines for distracted driving in Ontario can be anywhere from $615 to $3,000 with three to six demerit points.
If you're a first-time offender and you dispute the ticket, a $615 ticket increases to $1,000 if you lose.
A second-time offender will receive a $615 ticket that increases to $2,000 if they dispute it and lose. They can also expect six demerit points and license suspension for seven days.
For third-time offenders, a $615 ticket goes up to $3,000 if they take it to court and lose. They’ll also receive six demerit points and license suspension for 30 days.
Novice drivers will face longer suspensions and possible revocation.”
Ontario is showing its drivers that you shouldn’t dispute your ticket, but the upside is that Japanese carmakers won’t accuse Canadian drivers of being slobs.
The next time you decide to go anywhere in Canada, you’ll have to remember to buckle up, put it down, and put your hands at 10 and 2.
Or just call a taxi. It’s cheaper than a fine.