Distracted driving has been a hot-button issue for years. And by now, every Ontario driver should know that it is both dangerous and potentially illegal to do things like text while driving.
However, too many drivers admit to still engaging in distracting behaviours, often because they do not think the police will actually stop or arrest them. But it can and does happen.
How police spot distracted drivers
Distracted driving can cause catastrophic accidents, and police try to stop these drivers before they wind up in an accident. There are several signs police officers look for when it comes to distracted driving. They look for:
- Swerving out of a lane
- Missing traffic lights or stop signs
- Driving too slowly
- Drivers holding a phone up to their ear
- Drivers looking down at a phone instead of the road
When police officers spot these signs of distraction, they can and do stop drivers.
Depending on several factors, including your age and driving history, these stops can result in:
- Demerit points
- Licence suspension
- Criminal penalties, under some circumstances
The likelihood of police stopping you depends largely on how you drive while distracted and whether there is an officer in the area. But know that any police officer can pull over a driver they suspect or witness committing a driving offence.
Identifying distracted driving after a stop or crash
Even if police officers do not pull a driver over specifically for texting or using a hand-held phone, they can tack on related charges after stopping a driver for another reason or an accident.
For instance, officers might pull someone over after seeing the person run a red light. After approaching the driver, an officer might notice a phone in the driver’s lap. This could lead them to suspect distraction.
Alternatively, in the event of a crash, an investigation into a driver’s cell phone records could reveal a driver was sending or receiving texts or surfing the internet. These discoveries could affect the charges a driver might face and their liability for an accident.
Law enforcement agencies are motivated to identify distracted driving and stop or cite drivers who endanger themselves and others. Whether distracted driving is a primary offence or one of multiple charges, drivers would be wise to take the charge seriously.