Here in Ontario, we define careless driving as operating a vehicle without the proper care and attention that a reasonable driver would exercise in similar circumstances. It encompasses actions that display a lack of regard for the safety of others on the road. Careless driving poses a significant risk to everyone on the road, so it is considered a serious offence in Ontario. Understandably, it carries stiff penalties and potential licence suspensions.
Being aware of what constitutes careless driving, as well as the consequences, enables drivers to make informed decisions and encourages responsible behaviour on the road.
In a situation where a careless driving charge is incurred, understanding what the charge entails empowers drivers to protect their rights and interests. It can help:
- navigate the legal process effectively
- seek appropriate legal representation
- mount a viable legal defence
Having, at least, rudimentary knowledge on the issue can be the first step to finding a fair and just resolution.
How does the Highway Traffic Act define careless driving?
The Ontario Highway Traffic Act provides a specific definition of careless driving. According to Section 130 of the Act, careless driving is defined as driving a vehicle or operating it on a highway “without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.”
It lists a number of actions that could impact the safety of others, including:
- driving aggressively or recklessly (such as: excessive lane changes, tailgating, or ignoring traffic signals)
- distracted driving (such as using a mobile device)
- failing to yield the right of way
- driving at excessive speeds
It emphasizes the need for drivers to be attentive, cautious, and responsive while operating a vehicle.
This definition is broad, which can leave it open to interpretation. It does allow police and authorities to consider the actions and the circumstances at the time to determine whether an offence was committed.
What are the various careless driving ticket types you can receive?
There are a few different types of careless driving tickets that can be issued depending on the severity, and circumstances, of the offence:
- Careless Driving – Standard Ticket: This is the most common type of careless driving ticket, issued for general offences that display a lack of care and attention while driving – including: aggressive driving, distracted driving, and failure to yield.
- Careless Driving – Resulting in Bodily Harm: If bodily harm results, the offence becomes more serious. In such cases, the ticket carries heavier penalties and consequences.
- Careless Driving – Resulting in Death: When the death of another person occurs, the penalties and consequences are the most severe and can include criminal charges.
It’s important to note that the specific penalties, fines, and demerit points associated with each type of careless driving ticket can vary based on the circumstances and the discretion of the court.
What are the penalties for careless driving in Ontario?
At the beginning of 2022, all drivers whose licence has been suspended for offences including careless driving will incur a minimum fine of $250. Subsequent suspensions within five years will see that fine jump to $350, and then to $450.
Additional penalties could include:
- 6 demerit points
- a 30-day licence suspension for novice drivers
- licence suspension of two years, in the case of a serious offence
Fines are also doubled if the offence takes place in a marked safety zone or construction site. And, for very serious offences, an offender could receive a jail term of up to 6 months.
What impact could a careless driving offence have on my insurance?
A careless driving charge in Ontario will likely have a significant impact on your insurance rates. This is seen as an indicator of high-risk behaviour, thus premiums will undoubtedly rise. Individuals convicted of careless driving may even face the possibility of being denied coverage by certain insurers. It is essential for drivers to understand that the consequences of a careless driving charge extend well beyond the immediate legal penalties.
How long does careless driving stay on record in Ontario?
Typically, a careless driving charge stays on a driving record in Ontario for 3 years from the date of the offence. Insurance companies will be able to see the conviction and associated demerit points. The severity of the incident, previous driving history, among other factors, may be factored into their evaluations. After the 3 years, the careless driving conviction should no longer appear on the driving record – but this could vary depending on insurance providers and individual policies.
What options are available to reduce insurance costs after receiving a careless driving charge?
If you have received a careless driving charge in Ontario, there are ways that could, potentially, reduce your auto insurance costs. Here are a few options that could be considered:
- Focus on maintaining a clean driving record: Safe driving habits and eliminating further offences can help improve your driving record and lower your associated risk. Over time, this can lead to lower rates.
- Complete a Defensive Driving course: Showing initiative by taking an approved defensive driving course can demonstrate a commitment to improving driving skills and safety. This may be factored into calculating your insurance rates.
- Get estimates from other providers: Contacting multiple auto insurance providers to compare rates and coverage options can help find more competitive premiums after a careless driving charge.
- Installation of tracking device: There are insurance providers that offer a telematics tracking program – a device that’s installed to track your driving behaviour. In many cases, this option is offered in exchanges for lower rates.
5 tips to help Ontario drivers avoid careless driving
- Stay focused: Keeping attention focused on the road, at all times, is key. Avoid distractions such as eating, drinking, and mobile devices.
- Obey the speed limit: Watch for posted speed limits, be mindful of varying weather and road conditions, and adjust your speed accordingly.
- Maintain safe distances: Leave enough space between your vehicle and the one ahead to allow for safe braking and reaction time.
- Eliminate aggressive driving: Always drive defensively. Use turn signals when turning or merging, avoid tailgating and excessive speeds, be courteous to fellow drivers and pedestrians, and always follow the rules of the road.
- Yield right of way: Take a courteous approach and yield the right of way when necessary, so other drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists can proceed safely.
Remember, practicing safe driving habits and being considerate of others on the road can go a long way in avoiding careless driving behaviors, promoting road safety, and keeping insurance premiums low.
We would be happy to discuss your current car insurance situation
If you have any questions about how your driving record may or may not affect your insurance rates, we would be happy to help. Give us a call at 1-800-516-6275, or book an appointment with one of our experienced auto insurance agents, and we can provide you with the answers you’re looking for.