Cell phones and other electronic devices are some of the most common distractions for drivers. However, distractions impair driving and increase the risk of being involved in a collision.

The Law

In Ontario, it is illegal for driver’s to use a cell phone or other hand-held communication devices while driving.

The Highway Traffic Act states:

Sec. 78 (1) Display screen visible to driver prohibited

No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver.

Sec. 78.1 Hand-held devices prohibited

Wireless communication devices

(1)  No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Entertainment devices

(2)  No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held electronic entertainment device or other prescribed device the primary use of which is unrelated to the safe operation of the motor vehicle. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Hands-free mode allowed

(3)  Despite subsections (1) and (2), a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device described in those subsections in hands-free mode.

Exemption - Police, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters and enforcement officers can use hand-held devices and viewing display screens when performing their duties.

Examples of hand-held devices 

  • iPods
  • GPS and MP3 players
  • cell phones
  • smart phones
  • laptops
  • DVD players

Hands free

  • Any device that does not require you to touch, hold or manipulate while driving, other than to activate or deactivate it.

Fines for Distracted Driving

  • Drivers found using any hand-held device can face fines of up to $1000.
  • Police may also continue to charge a driver with careless driving when not paying full attention to their driving.
    • If convicted of careless driving, a driver will automatically receive six demerit points, fines up to $1000 and a possible jail term of six months. In some cases, a driver’s license may be suspended for up to two years.

Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving

  • Make it a habit to only use your cell phone when you’re parked, have a passenger make/take the call, or let it go to voicemail.
  • Turn off your cell phone before driving or put it in the trunk.
  • Set your GPS and preset your radio before leaving.
  • Avoid other distractions like reading, grooming, eating/drinking, tending to children/pets.

Related Websites

Ministry of Transportation

Highway Traffic Act