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Toronto Police

Toronto Police are on to you

Don’t try to hide phones in your lap while driving  Toronto Police are on to you

Starting Monday, Toronto police will begin cracking down on distracted driving and drivers who block traffic during rush hour.

Distracted driving continues to be a major contributor to deaths and injuries and collisions, including in particular, those involving pedestrians and cyclists, and it must become a thing of the past, Mayor John Tory said Tuesday during an announcement at Toronto Police Traffic Services.

The announcement follows new provincial legislation imposing fines of $1,000 and three demerit points for a first distracted-driving offence.

Drivers who block traffic during rush hour will also be ticketed, and cars left unattended and blocking traffic will be towed.

The blitz will focus on Toronto’s downtown.

Supt. Scott Baptist said police are aware that drivers sometimes try to hide their phones in their laps, and police will be looking out for that in particular officers will be in marked and unmarked vehicles, on bicycles and riding streetcars in order to spot offenders.

Baptist said it has been illegal since 2009 for drivers in Ontario to talk, text or type on cellphones or other hand-held communications or entertainment devices. Despite the ban, distracted driving continues to be a leading contributing factor in collisions.

Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to crash, according to Baptist.

The province increased fines for distracted driving on Jan. 1. Convictions will also now result in driver’s licence suspensions of three, seven or 30 days by the Ministry of Transportation. Novice drivers will have their licences suspended for 30 days on a first conviction.

Before the changes, the minimum fine was $490, three demerit points and no licence suspension.

More than 6,000 tickets for blocking lanes during rush hour have been issued during blitzes over the past four years and more than 1,000 cars towed, Tory said.

This is behaviour that we can’t continue to tolerate in the city. It inconveniences hundreds of other people, just so that the few who want to break the law can go and get their dry-cleaning or their coffee or make things more convenient for themselves, said Tory.

Cabs are permitted to stop, even during rush hour, to pick up or drop off passengers and process payment, but they are being encouraged, when possible, to do so off main streets, said traffic services Sgt. Brett Moore.

Uber drivers are not allowed to stop in traffic as cabs do, Moore said.

Xavier Van Chau, a spokesperson for Uber, said the company is committed to helping reduce distracted driving and support safe driving.

In an effort to reduce drowsy driving last year, we introduced a new feature that prompts drivers to go offline for six straight hours from the app after a total of 12 hours of driving time, said Van Chau, adding that the service has also launched products to make pickup easier.

We continue to look at what technology and policies we can introduce that help move the needle when it comes to road safety.

Penalties for Handheld Device (Drivers with G licences)

  • First conviction
    a fine of up to $1,000
    3 demerit points
    3-day suspension
  • Second conviction
    a fine of up to $2,000
    6 demerit points
    7-day suspension
  • Third and any additional conviction(s)
    a fine of up to $3,000
    6 demerit points
    30-day suspension

Penalties for Handheld Device (Drivers with G1, G2, M1 or M2 licences)

  • First conviction
    a fine of up to $1,000
    30-day suspension
  • Second conviction
    a fine of up to $2,000
    90-day suspension
  • Third and any additional conviction(s)
    a fine of up to $3,000
    cancellation of licence

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