During the Progressive Era of the 1900’s, a period characterized by widespread social activism and political reform in the United States, public health and safety concerns took the form of awareness campaigns. One such campaign proclaimed: “Carefulness costs you nothing. Carelessness may cost you your life”. Though these words are from a century vastly different from our own, the message still resonates today; particularly, in the context of driving. At best, careless driving may cost you a fine or time in prison and, at worst, it may result in serious injury or loss of life.
In this blog, we will discuss the law and provide safety recommendations to help you be a responsible and safe driver.
Careless driving is also sometimes referred to as “reckless driving” and is an offence under Section 130 of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (“HTA”). This section of the HTA states that careless driving occurs when a person drives without due care and attention or without consideration for other drivers and pedestrians. If you break this law, then you may be subject to any or all of the following:
A fine of between $400.00 and $2,000.00.
Six (6) months in jail.
A two-year suspension of your driver’s license.
Although offences such as speeding or impaired driving can be measured objectively by devices (radar and breathalyzer, respectively), a careless driving charge is at the discretion of a police officer.
The fines for careless driving are increased if you violate the law in a community safety zone. Section 214.1of the HTAstates that if you are convicted of careless driving in a community safety zone, the minimum fine is $800.00 and you may face a maximum fine of up to $4,000.00.
If you cause an accident and injure others as a result, then you may be charged with dangerous driving under Section 249(3) of the Criminal Code. As you would expect, the potential penalty under the Criminal Code is far more severe: a jail term of up to ten years.
Careful driving does not cost you anything and includes the following the types of driving behaviours:
If you are feeling fatigued and/or drowsy, then do not drive.
Plan the route to your destination in advance. The chances of careless, erratic, or inconsiderate driving increase significantly when you are lost.
When driving long distances, be sure to take a break from driving every 2-3 hours.
Yield the right of way when it is appropriate to do so.
Do not compete with another driver, “teach a lesson” to another driver, or retaliate against another driver for inconsiderate behaviour. Leave education and enforcement to the police.
Avoid aggressive driving and “road rage” which includes:
Failing to yield the right of way
Chasing another driver
Cutting in front of another driver
If you are experiencing stress, do not take your problems out on other drivers or pedestrians.