Hands on the Wheel, Not Phone

By Kevin Masterman, Toronto Police Service Published: 8:19 a.m. July 30, 2018

Distracting Driving is one of the bad driving behaviours being targeted during the #YourStreetsYourSafety Summer Traffic Safety Campaign that will visit 54 and 55 Divisions from July 30 to August 5.

A man in TPS uniform at a car
Constable Clint Stibbe talks to a motorist he pulled over for a distracted driving offence downtown

Traffic Services will support local officers in week-long initiatives, throughout the summer and early Fall, to focus on four key areas of road safety; distracted driving, impaired driving, aggressive driving and speeding.

“The message is clear: distracted driving is taking lives and putting everybody at risk. You need to do your part to make the roads safer and that includes putting that cellphone on mute or turning it off and focus on driving,” Stibbe said. “The reality is when you’re focused on one task, the other task is suffering. When operating a motor vehicle it becomes a weapon when you’re not paying attention.

“We’ve become conditioned. Every time we hear that ring, beep or buzz we answer it. When you’re operating a motor vehicle it becomes an offence.

Stibbe was recently downtown when he stopped a woman checking an Instagram notification while stopped waiting to turn left. 

“A notification popped up and I happened to look,” said Sharisse, who was caught by Stibbe holding the phone and accessing the message. “The phones a distraction for everyone… I do usually try to keep it in my console.”

Constable Clint Stibbe highlights the importance of staying off handheld devices while driving

Anyone who is holding a phone in their hand while driving can face a $490 fine and three demerit points.

“You need to turn that cellphone off, put it out of reach,” said Stibbe. “You need to keep in mind that answering that call or text could cost somebody their life.”

Starting January 1, 2019, if you are convicted of using a handheld device while operating a motor vehicle you can have your licence suspended for three, seven and 30 days, for first, second and third offences and face $1000 - $3,000 in fines.

“You hold in your hands your driver’s licence, insurance rates and someone’s life,” he said.

In the last #YourStreetsYourSafety campaign –  focused on speeding, distracted driving, aggressive driving, and impaired driving issuing over 1,400 provincial offence notices, including:

  • Speeding: 738
  • Disobey Sign Offences: 262
  • Turning Offences: 158
  • Distracted Driving Offences: 102
  • Disobey Traffic Signal: 63
  • Careless Driving: 39
  • Criminal Code Offences:
  • Impaired Driving Arrests: 4
  • Warn Range Driving Suspensions: 1

The Summer Traffic Safety Campaign will see additional enforcement of intersections, school zones and impaired driving, rotating through all areas of the city as part of efforts to support the Vision Zero action plan to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets.

He said the police role in Vision Zero is to raise awareness of how to stay safe on the streets as well as enforce the laws designed to create a safe environment on the roads.

 “We believe strategic enforcement throughout the city shows these types of behaviours will not be tolerated,” Baptist said.

There will also be heightened RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) spot checks during the summer and fall.

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