distracted driving toronto

Driver fined $615 for watching TV behind the wheel in downtown Toronto

Today in evidence of societal decline, police say that a Toronto driver has been caught watching television behind the wheel of a moving motor vehicle — and that this type of behaviour is growing increasingly common in Canada's largest city.

"More and more our team is seeing a concerning trend of drivers watching TV when driving," reported the Toronto Police Service (TPS) on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

"It's too bad this needs to be said. You can't watch TV and drive even though the phone is mounted to the dash."

A photo shared by TPS Traffic Services reveals that the offender was pulled over just after 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2023, while travelling southbound on Spadina Avenue near Front Street West.

Media relations officers included an eye-roll emoji with their tweet about the TV-watching motorist on Wednesday, for obvious reasons, and responses from members of the community are similarly snarky about what some say they're starting to see in person as well.

"I ride a bike and can see in cars easily, I see people texting and watching videos on there [sic] phone while driving often, there is little to no enforcement. Drivers don't care," replied one local.

"Uber drivers and Lyft drivers watch their phone[s] and touch all day long," wrote another. "[I've] seen them go through reds or stops not watching the road."

While some jurisdictions in some parts of the world are discussing the idea of making it legal for drivers to watch screens in autonomous vehicles, it is still very much illegal in Ontario, where watching TV behind the wheel counts as distracted driving.

The tweet shared by police in Toronto on Wednesday shows that the driver busted watching TV was charged under Section 78 of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act (HTA), which states that "no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver."

While some exceptions to the above rule do exist for things like securely-mounted GPS systems, "catching the rest of Emily in Paris on Netflix" is not one of said exceptions.

Thus, the offender in question was dinged with a total fine of $615.00.

Some might say they got lucky to drive away with just a fine; If the motorist was found to have endangered other people while distracted, they could have been charged under the HTA with careless driving — a conviction of which comes with fines of up to $2,000 plus six months in prison and/or the suspension of one's driver's licence for up to two years.

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