News Article

Tougher Penalities for Distracted Drivers

March 21, 2014



For Immediate Release – March 18, 2014

Tougher Penalties for Distracted Drivers in Ontario:

ST. CATHARINES: Do you text when you drive? Here’s a simple message: “D.O.N.T”: Drive Only Never Text.


Distracted driving is not only a significant contributor to deaths on Ontario roadways, but driving while texting or talking on a cell phone can also lead to disability including traumatic brain injury.  Accordingly, the Ontario Brain Injury Association supports tougher penalties for distracted driving including the increase in distracted driving fines from $155 to $280 effective March 18, 2014.

Brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability for people under the age of 44, and kills more people under the age 20 than any other causes combined (US Center for Disease Control). Furthermore, in this year alone, 18,000 people in Ontario will sustain a brain injury (Ontario Alliance for Action on Brain Injury).  

Everyone is vulnerable to the potential of sustaining a brain injury.  Motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports and illness can all put individuals at risk.  According to the OBIA Impact Report 2012, 40% of individuals surveyed sustained a brain injury as a result of a motor vehicle collision. Simple precautions while driving such as always wearing a seat belt and putting your cell phone in the glove compartment can save lives and prevent brain injuries and disabilities.

“Brain injuries can range from mild to catastrophic, but all brain injuries can have lasting effects,” said Ruth Wilcock, Executive Director of OBIA.  Sadly, a traumatic brain injury is a lifelong condition with varying degrees of disability ranging from minor to complete 24/7 care. Individuals who have sustained a traumatic brain injury often require immediate care at a trauma centre, acute care in the hospital, intensive rehabilitation and long term extensive care by family members.”  

The Ontario Brain Injury Association supports all efforts to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to distracted driving including the recently proposed legislative amendments to the Highway Traffic Act.  These amendments would impose three demerit points upon conviction of a distracted driving offence and would make a distracted driving conviction a contravention of one of the license conditions placed on novice drivers within the Graduated Licensing System.  


  • Acquired brain injury is 15 times more common than spinal cord injury, 30 times more common than breast cancer and 400 times more common than HIV/AIDS. (US Center for Disease Control)

  • Distracted driving is cited as a causal factor in 30 to 50 per cent of traffic collisions on Ontario, but is probably much higher due to under-reporting. (Ontario Provincial Police)

  • Texting while driving is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time (VA. Tech Transportation Institute). In three seconds, at sixty kilometres per hour you travel fifty metres— that's the distance across half a football field. (Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

The Ontario Brain Injury Association, along with affiliated community brain injury associations across Ontario, are encouraging Ontarians to become more aware of the potential for brain injuries due to motor vehicle collisions caused by distracted driving - including driving while texting or talking on a cell phone.  A provincial awareness campaign: “D.O.N.T” (Drive Only Never Text) will be launched in Ontario in June 2014 for Brain Injury Awareness Month.


About OBIA: The Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) is a provincial not-for profit, charitable organization. Its mission is to enhance the lives of Ontarians living with the effects of acquired brain injury (ABI) through education, awareness and support. OBIA’s services include: training programs for survivors, caregivers and professionals; industry workshops and conferences; applied research on ABI in the province of Ontario; 1-800 toll free helpline; personal advocacy; and a province-wide peer support program for people living with ABI.



Media inquiries:


Ruth Wilcock

Executive Director

Ontario Brain Injury Association

905-641-8877 x238