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Understanding distracted driving laws

All provinces in Canada, including British Columbia, have passed legislation to combat distracted driving, as this is seen as an issue that impacts all parts of Canada. These laws largely focus around the use of cellphones while behind the wheel, with an emphasis on texting, browsing the Internet, updating social media sites, taking pictures and doing other things that take the driver's eyes off of the road for an extended period of time.

In most provinces, the laws are aimed at keeping drivers from using any hand-held communication devices. However, Ontario and British Columbia have taken things one step further. These provinces have expanded the laws to include a ban on all hand-held electronic entertainment devices. This goes beyond phones and could include things like MP3 players, gaming devices, tablets and the like.

On top of that, those with a Graduated Driver Licence, or GDL, cannot use hands-free devices in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. This goes on top of the ban on hand-held devices.

The fines and demerits differ widely from one province to the next. The laws for British Columbia specifically went into effect in February of 2010. Under these laws, a driver who is caught will get three demerits. That driver will also be given a fine of $167. Naturally, this would go over other penalties if there are extenuating circumstances -- if the use of a hand-held device caused an accident, for example.

If you've been injured in such an accident, fault may lie with the driver who broke the law, and you must know what rights you have to compensation.

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