One of the best ways to keep your auto insurance rates from increasing is to maintain a clean driving record – in other words, avoiding those traffic violations that could lead to a ticket or even an accident.
Most of the traffic laws in Canada are created at the provincial level (unless it’s a serious criminal offence like driving while impaired). But while the traffic laws may vary from province to province, the impact that traffic violations can have on your driving record and insurance rates are pretty consistent across the country.
Here are five of the most common traffic tickets that could impact your insurance rates:
1. Speeding ticket
The penalty for speeding depends on how much you were going over the speed limit. A fine for going 50 km over the limit is going to be a lot more than if you were going 10 km over. While one minor ticket won’t have a big impact on your insurance rates, getting more than one ticket or a major ticket for going more than 50 km over the limit will affect your rate if your insurance company finds out about it (which they will once you pay it or if you end up going to court). For instance, if you’re convicted of speeding in Ontario, the Ministry of Transportation is notified and your conviction is added to your driving record – depending on your insurance company, this could also affect your insurance rates.
2. Distracted driving
Texting or talking on your phone while you’re driving, checking your GPS, eating or drinking, or trying to read a map while you’re at the wheel are all things that could lead to a ticket for distracted driving. Penalties for distracted driving include fines up to $1000, loss of three demerit points and even licence suspension up to two years.
3. Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign
If there’s no one around at a stop sign or red light, there’s no harm in just rolling through… right?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of drivers who think this way and probably end up with their fair share of tickets (or worse, cause an accident). Make sure you always come to a full and complete stop when you come to a stop sign or red light. If you don’t, it could cost up to three demerit points and again, possibly affect your insurance rates.
4. Driving without a seatbelt
All drivers and passengers across Canada are required to wear seatbelts. Depending on which province you live in, driving without a seatbelt could cost you up to $1000 and up to three demerit points.
5. Illegal turns
An improper turn (for example, turning from the wrong lane or doing a U-turn in a no U-turn zone) can take other drivers off-guard and lead to an accident. Fines are typically around $100-150 (varies by province), and could cost 2 demerit points.