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Handheld cell phone legislation in Canada
- All Canadian provinces and territories, with the exception of Nunavut, prohibit the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving.
- As of July 2017, penalties for a first offence range from $100 (Newfoundland and Labrador) to $575 (Prince Edward Island).
- Demerit points on the drivers licence for a distracted driving offence range from 3 to 5 points. As of July 2017, five provinces and territories impose 3 demerits range and two provinces impose 5 demerits.
- British Columbia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have a cumulative fine structure for repeat offenders within a specific timeframe.
Specific distracted driving behaviours that are prohibited are described in legislation.
- Drivers are prohibited from holding, touching, viewing, using or manipulating a cellphone while driving in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick.
- As of July 2017, Canadian jurisdictions do not ban fully licensed drivers from using hands-free cell phones while driving; however, many jurisdictions do prohibit drivers in GDL programs from using hands-free.
- Alberta is currently the only province with distracted driving legislation that extends beyond the use of hand-held electronic devices, to specifically include entering information on GPS, reading printed materials in the vehicle, writing, printing or sketching as well as personal grooming (brushing and flossing teeth, applying makeup, curling hair, clipping nails and shaving)
- British Columbia and Saskatchewan prohibit GDL drivers from using both hand-held and hands-free devices.
- British Columbia and Saskatchewan ban having the electronic device within view / reach. For instance, BC legislation prohibits unsecured hand-held electronic devices within reach / view; this includes having the device in a driver’s lap, in the centre console or on the passenger seat.
|Province/ Teritory||Fine||Demerits||Into Effect|
|British Columbia*||$368*||4||February 2010|
|Quebec**||$300 – $600||5||April 2008|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$100 – $400 currently||4||April 2003|
|Prince Edward Island||$575-$1,275||5||January 2010|
|Nova Scotia||$233.95 first offence
$348.95 second offence
$578.95 subsequent offences
|New Brunswick||$172.50||3||June 2011|
|Northwest Territories*****||$322*****||3||January 2012|
|Nunavut***||Nothing at this time|
Source: Individual Provincial Legislation
*The fine for a single distracted driving violation ticket is $368, along with 4 penalty points that will be applied a driver’s record. On a first infraction, these points will also result in a driver paying a further $175 ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium, for a total of $543 for a first infraction. Drivers who get two or more distracted driving convictions in a three-year period are charged a Driver Risk Premium (DRP), which is billed annually and is separate from any insurance premiums you may have. This amount will increase for each additional conviction.
**Effective June 30, 2018, repeat offence (within a two-year period) is double the minimum fine, or $600 and immediate licence suspension in the case of a repeat offence (within a two-year period) with a first repeat offence = 3 days, second repeat offence = 7 days, third repeat offence = 30 days; and 5 demerit points.
***See June 2, 2015 Commissioner’s Address at the opening of the third session of the fourth legislative assembly of Nunavut.
****Drivers caught violating this law receive three-day licence suspension for a first offence and a seven-day suspension for subsequent offences. Upon conviction, they also receive a $672 fine and move five levels down the Driver Safety Rating (DSR) scale.
*****$644 in school and construction zones and administrative driver’s licence suspensions for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th distracted driving offences in a two year period.
Provincial distracted driving legislation information:
- British Columbia — Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles
- Alberta — Alberta Transportation Distracted Driving
- Saskatchewan — SGI Traffic Safety
- Manitoba — Manitoba Public Insurance – Distracted Driving Law
- Ontario — Ontario Ministry of Transportation Distracted Driving – Note: Changes to legislation take effect Jan. 1, 2019
- Quebec — Cell Phones and Driving
- Nova Scotia — Hands on the Wheel — Eyes on the Road
- Prince Edward Island — Distracted Driving
- Newfoundland and Labrador — Road Users Guide (Page 14 of the road guide)
- New Brunswick — New Brunswick Public Safety: Driver distraction
- Yukon – Yukon Government: Distracted Driving
- Northwest Territories – Department of Transportation
- Nunavut — No legislation at this time**
Sources of Distracted Driving-Related Data
This section includes a selection of publicly available distracted driving data sources that have been published by Canadian jurisdictions. A brief description of these sources and their associated links has been provided.
It should be noted that definitions of distracted driving, the variables that are included in a dataset that can be used to measure distracted driving, and the means by which these data are collected can vary from one jurisdiction to another. Furthermore, comparing the prevalence or trends in distracted driving between jurisdictions may present challenges. Thus, data presented in these sources should be treated with caution.
Any questions related to these distracted driving data should be directed to the agency that published these documents.
2015 Quick Statistics (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia). This report includes collision data from 2011 to 2015. Data for distracted driving can be found on page 19. See: http://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/newsroom/Documents/quick-statistics.pdf
2016 Fatal victims by contributing factors (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia). This brief summary shows the number of persons killed by various contributing factors, including distraction, from 2012 to 2016. See: http://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/newsroom/Pages/Contributing-Factors.aspx
2017 Distracted Driving Convictions: By Offence Date as of March 31 (Alberta Transportation). This report provides conviction data from 2013 to 2017 by type of offence. See: http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/documents/DistractedDrivingConvictions.pdf
2017 Distracted Driving Convictions: Select Municipalities as of March 31 (Alberta Transportation). Conviction data are presented for Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and the rest of Alberta from 2015 to 2017. Data are provided for number of convictions as well as the conviction rate per 10,000 licensed drivers. See: http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/documents/DistractedMunicipalities.pdf
2017 Distracted Driving Convictions: By Age and Sex as of March 31 (Alberta Transportation). Conviction data from 2014 to 2017 by driver sex and age group are presented. These data include the number of convictions as well as the conviction rate per 10,000 licensed drivers. See: http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/documents/DistractedAgeSex.pdf
2016 Saskatchewan Traffic Accident Facts. The top contributing factors in fatal collisions can be found on page 14. The prevalence of contributing human factors by collision severity is shown on page 16. The number of occurrences of driver human conditions by age group is presented on page 34. See: https://www.sgi.sk.ca/pdf/tais/TAIS_2016_Annual_Report.pdf
2015 Traffic Collision Statistics Report (Manitoba Public Insurance). The frequency of contributing factors by collision severity is shown on page 147. A 5-year average for this table, from 2010-2014, is illustrated on page 150. A summary showing that distracted driving accounted for 23% of all collisions, including 36% of fatal collisions; 25% of injury collisions; and, 22% of property damage only collisions is shown on page 152. See: https://www.mpi.mb.ca/en/PDFs/TCSR2015.pdf
2014 Ontario Road Safety Annual Report (Ontario Ministry of Transportation). The number of fatalities by contributing factors is shown on page 12. Distraction-related fatalities from 1995 to 2014 are presented in a figure on page 19. The number of drivers involved in collisions by driver condition by crash severity is shown in a table on page 30. The number of drivers killed by driver condition is presented on page 32. See: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/publications/pdfs/ontario-road-safety-annual-report-2014.pdf
2012 Detailed profile of facts and statistics regarding distracted driving (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec). Driver distraction results including sources of distraction according to a 2012 survey are shown on page 6. The report also includes some historical data since 2008 for convictions, offenders, and injuries in distraction-related incidents. See: https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/documents/publications/detailed-profile-statistics-distracted-driving.pdf
Prince Edward Island
2015 Road Safety Strategy for PEI (PEI Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal). Electronic communications device usage is shown on page 17 for drivers in PEI compared to the rest of Canada. These results are based on the 2012 CCMTA Distracted Driver Survey. This section summarizes electronic device use by drivers based upon driver sex, driver age group, and vehicle type. See: http://crss2015.ccmta.ca/_files/PEI%20road%20safety%20strategy%202015.pdf
2015 NWT Traffic Collision Facts (Northwest Territories Department of Transportation). Collisions by severity where human action was a major contributing factor is shown on page 8. Off-road vehicle collisions by severity and driver action are shown on page 34. See: https://www.inf.gov.nt.ca/sites/inf/files/resources/2015_nwt_traffic_collision_facts.pdf