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Motor Vehicle Accidents

Distracted driving: Fines, faults, and fatalities.

More than 140 Nova Scotians were involved in a fatal or serious collision brought about by distracted driving in 2016.

Despite large fines and significant consequences, Aviva Canada has reported a 23% increase in distracted driving claims throughout Canada from 2016 to 2018. Although Atlantic Canada’s increase of 8% is small compared to the rest of the nation, the number of claims in Atlantic Canada is still increasing. Distracted driving, which is entirely preventable, causes serious injury to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, along with damage to property.

Nova Scotia’s Handheld Cellphone Ban Has Little Effect

In 2008, Nova Scotia banned the use of handheld cellphones and any text-messaging devices in vehicles, except for emergency purposes, according to the province’s website.  This year marks the 10th anniversary of the law, but people continue to use their cellphones while driving to call, text, and browse. Even with higher fines and demerit points put into effect in 2015, the RCMP reported that more than 140 Nova Scotians were involved in a fatal or serious collision brought about by distracted driving in 2016, according to Global News.

Nova Scotia’s fines for distracted driving are as follows:

  • $233.95 for a first offence
  • $348 for a second offence
  • $578.95 for a third offence with the addition of four demerits upon conviction

New Brunswick drivers still need constant “no cell phone” reminders

According to the province’s website, distracted driving legislation that criminalized the use of handheld cellphones, texting devices, as well as portable entertainment devices while driving was introduced in 2010. The province also mentioned that passengers should refrain from allowing any television-styled device from being within the visual range of the driver. New Brunswickers can expect the following if they engage in distracted driving:

  • A $172.50 fine for a first offence
  • Three demerits on their license

Despite the enactment of the legislation, the RCMP issued over 672 tickets in response to distracted driving law violations in the first year of the new law, according to the 2012 annual report by the New Brunswick Insurance Board.

According to CBC News, 130 tickets were issued in 2016 by Fredericton police. One of the constables found that drivers had misconceptions about distracted driving, believing it was okay to use their cellphone while stopped at a red light or in traffic. This same constable saw that many offenders were people who used their vehicle as their office, such as contractors and real estate agents.

In 2017, Global News reported that New Brunswick RCMP ticketed 61 drivers during a holiday weekend and had to repeatedly tell drivers that simply holding their portable electronic device in their hand was a violation.

Prince Edward Island highway traffic tickets diminished—but maybe not for the right reasons

According to the province’s website, P.E.I. saw to making handheld communication device use while driving illegal in 2010, specifying cellphones, 10-4 phones, GPS systems, as well as laptops. The province also increased their fines and demerits in 2015, which are currently:

  • A minimum of $575
  • A maximum of $1,275
  • Five demerits upon conviction

P.E.I. police admitted to CBC News that it’s difficult to determine if distracted driving is the cause of a motor vehicle accident by analyzing the crime scene, since a cellphone will likely be tossed around or even ejected from the vehicle upon impact.

In 2017, Prince Edward Island experienced a dip in revenue from highway traffic fines, according to CBC News. Many believed this was the result of fewer people breaking the law or committing serious offences, but police were skeptical. An RCMP Staff Sergeant admitted to CBC News that drivers have developed sly methods to still use their phones while driving without getting caught. This includes placing their cellphone below the driver’s window, such as on their laps or on the seat beside them.

Newfoundland & Labrador urge new tech solutions for distracted driving

Newfoundland and Labrador also banned handheld cellphone use, texting, as well as manual GPS programming in 2010 and imposed the following fines:

  • $100 fine for a first offence
  • $400 fine for a third offence
  • Four demerits

Aviva Canada conducted a nation-wide survey and found that Newfoundlanders demonstrated the highest belief that new technology was the answer to preventing distracted driving. They also had the highest response to adopting a technological solution, as well as encouraging vehicle experts and governmental authorities to develop one.


Although it may be tempting to read a text message or check your social media feed while driving, it increases your risk of being in an accident and hurting yourself and others. Wait until you are parked before picking up your phone.

At MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law, we’ve represented car accident injury victims for over 20 years. Our compassionate team will fight for the compensation you deserve and help get your life back on track after an accident. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact us today.

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