Police Focus on Distracted Driving

In January the Police focused on pedestrian safety – I would like to report that they reduced the number of pedestrians crossing on a red light or jaywalking but given the extra-cold January I did very little walking in the month and certainly saw no foot patrolling police or anyone warned.  Perhaps they can repeat this program in mid-summer.  But in February their “Selective Traffic Enforcement Project (S.T.E.P.) for the month of February will focus on distracted driving in Cobourg.”  They quote scary figures by the CAA on how “Drivers engaged in visual-manual interactions with cell phones (e.g., texting) are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash” and “Drivers conversing on mobile devices, either hands-free or hand-held are up to four times as likely to be involved in a crash”.

Distracted Driving
Distracted Driving

I thought hands-free was OK and quite legal so I checked at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation site (Link below).

What they say is that it’s against the law to:

  • operate hand-held communication and electronic entertainment devices while you’re driving
  • view display screens unrelated to your driving

Expanding on this they say that “you can use any device that you do not touch, hold or manipulate while driving, other than to activate or deactivate it. Actions like dialing or scrolling through contacts are not allowed.”  So my car’s built-in hands-free connection to the phone in my pocket is OK.

You must not use a device at a Traffic light or pulled over on the 401 (you can only stop there for an emergency).  There is an exception to these rules if you are calling 911.

The Police warn that that they could lay the following charges:

  • Drive – hand–held communication device;
  • Drive – hand–held entertainment device;
  • Drive – display screen visible to driver; and
  • Careless Driving.

The above fines start at $490.00 and go up to $2000.00, with demerit points from 3 to 6, depending on the HTA charge laid.

To be fair, the Police are not planning to give out tickets if you are using hands-free but the CAA statistics imply that you can be distracted with or without a hands-free connection.



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6 years ago

CPS need to scope out the No Thrills parking lot. I have had so many near misses there from folk in a hurry to get their goods home with no checking before pulling out. This could possibly come under the heading “distracted driving” too. I park far away now and traded in my small, energy efficient vehicle for a much despised SUV so I can be seen. Take care out there, folks.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Elaine
6 years ago

I believe the No Frills parking lot is privately owned. While the police will come and do a report about the accident they typically won’t lay charges because it’s not a public location. A new rule that came into force a year or two ago stipulates that if the cost of repair falls under $2,000 police don’t need to be involved at all but the damaged vehicle(s) must be taken to a designated collision centre. I couldn’t find any flyers or other information to link here but I’m sure someone here can find verification with Google.

My solution to that problem is to shop after 6 pm when things have settled down.

6 years ago

This initiative is well overdue. It seems as though there is rampant disregard for the law, the sensibility of which clearly hasn’t reached too many people in Cobourg.

Walter Luedtke
6 years ago

Can I still listen to the radio or talk to my wife Hyacinth?

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
6 years ago

If you are not deaf and your wife’s name is Hyacinth (and she is in the car with you), yes.

6 years ago

In the light of a rather vigorous facebook page debate that took place over the last three days where a local Cobourg small businessman was almost blindsided by a CPS SUV on Ontario St. he, the local man, was in the Police driver’s blindspot, and took to FB to describe his experience, in that exchange another local person described a very similar incident with another CPS car, it would seem that the CPS should be looking inward!

Reply to  ben
6 years ago

They would have fallen in that usual high statistic of “warnings”.