The Risks of Distracted Driving

New apps and the concern for accidents

TORONTO, Sept. 6, 2016 /CNW/ - With new apps and games popping up like Pokémon Go, users need to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving. With several incidents already caused by people playing the game, distracted by their phones and walking in the middle of the road, concern is now with people playing the game while driving. As students go back to school, there is even more concern over potential accidents involving distracted driving using cellphones and playing apps and games.

The new Pokémon Go app uses the GPS and camera from your mobile phone to allow players catch virtual Pokémon. Some players have become so desperate to be better at the game and catch new Pokémon characters that they are putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations.

"Drivers should be aware of the dangers caused by distracted driving," says Wendy Moore Mandel of Thomson, Rogers. "Phone calls, texting, choosing music and typing an address into a GPS while driving all count as forms of distracted driving, resulting in fines (starting at $400-$1000 and three demerit points) and possibly accidents."

Two police officers in Quebec were injured recently when a driver playing Pokémon Go backed into their cruiser. The driver told the two police officers the reason for the incident was because he was playing Pokémon Go.

Quebec is considering criminalizing cellphone use while driving. CBC News reported on August 25th that the province is asking the federal government to examine the possibility of criminalizing the use of cellphones while driving.

According to CAA, cell phones are one of the most common distractions for drivers. Drivers engaged in texting are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. Economic losses caused by traffic collision-related health care costs and lost productivity are at least $10 billion annually.

"Distracted driving is a significant problem today. It is still the number one factor in road deaths. According to the Ontario Provincial Police, last year distracted drivers exceeded all other categories of road deaths, (speeding, seat-belt related and alcohol/drug related incidents) causing 69 fatalities," says Leonard Kunka of Thomson, Rogers.

To add fuel to the fire, recent changes to Ontario's standard auto insurance policy puts motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians at risk of having inadequate insurance coverage in the event of an accident.

The limits for medical/rehabilitation benefits and attendant care benefits for both catastrophic and non-catastrophic injuries have been severely reduced.  In addition, there are changes to the definition of Catastrophic Impairment which dramatically reduces the number of injured people whose injuries will qualify for enhanced benefits.  There are also reductions in the duration of benefits to non-working individuals (capped at 2 years as opposed to lifetime benefits under the current legislation).

For Non-Catastrophic injuries, the previous $50,000 for medical/rehabilitation benefits and $36,000 for attendant care benefits has been reduced to a combined limit of $65,000 for both categories.  For Catastrophic injuries, the previous $1,000,000 for medical/rehabilitation benefits and $1,000,000 for attendant care benefits has been reduced to a combined limit of $1,000,000.

Leonard Kunka and Wendy Moore Mandel, partners at Thomson, Rogers, are available to comment on the potential risks of distracted driving and the changes to accident benefits and its impact on drivers and injured parties.

Thomson, Rogers is the largest personal injury law firm in Toronto and is also a leader in family law litigationclass actionscommercial litigation and land use litigation.

SOURCE Thomson, Rogers

For further information: For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Mary Ann Freedman, Freedman & Associates for Thomson, Rogers, Tel: 416-868-1500

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