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10 of the most common driving violations and their impact on insurance

Posted on Aug. 22, 2017

We all see them happen. Those pesky driving violations that keep popping up all over the place. Heck, every now and then we might slip up and be guilty of one ourselves.

 

Though it's tough to find definitive statistics on which violations are actually committed the most, that everyday life experience gives us a pretty good idea of what they are. For example, it's pretty rare that you'll see a guilty driver fail to remain at an accident scene, but chances are that you'll come across someone who doesn't signal (at least once a week, probably more).

 

Not every driving violation results in a ticket. Cops don't have eyes everywhere, and stationing them on every block would be a gross misuse of public funds.

 

When tickets are issued, though, it could mean that a hike to the driver's insurance will soon follow. Let's take a look at 10 of the most common driving violations and how they might impact insurance.

 

Minor, major, or criminal?

 

Before we get into specific violations, it's important to take note of how driving violations are typically classified in the eyes of insurers. They tend to view them as being separated into tiers, falling into the categories of either minor, major, or criminal.

 

These aren't concrete divisions. Some insurers will treat certain minor infractions much more harshly than another would. For the most part, though, where a violation falls in terms of tiers will say a lot about how it will be treated when it comes time to assess premiums.

 

The most common minor violations

 

  • Failure to wear a seatbelt
  • Running a red light
  • Not stopping at a stop sign
  • Improper turn
  • Failure to signal
  • Improper pass

 

These are the types of violations we see all the time. Even though they have the potential to cause fatal harm if they are carried out under certain circumstances, they mostly end up being inconsequential.

 

Nothing is inconsequential in the eyes of the law though. When you are written up for a ticket by a cop, it goes on your driving record and stays there for three years. Besides the set fine you will be paying for your conviction, it is possible you'll be handed an insurance increase to go along with it.

 

A single minor conviction may not warrant an increase. If it isn't too serious of an occurrence, then you could get a mulligan and continue paying the same rates. But a second minor conviction will almost certainly result in premiums that are in the ballpark of 20 per cent higher. Each minor conviction following that will probably result in a corresponding 20 per cent increase.

 

The most common major violation

 

  • Failure to carry or surrender proof of insurance

 

You'd think that anyone operating a motor vehicle would have it hard-wired into their brain to carry proof of insurance at all times, but that isn't the case. If a cop pulls you over for any reason and you can't produce/surrender your insurance, then there will be no mercy shown towards you. Sadly this happens on a fairly regular basis.

 

As a major violation, it comes with a steeper fine than minor convictions ($175), and likely a higher insurance hike as well. That amount will likely be approximately 25 per cent. Oh, and there's no mulligan either.

 

The most common criminal violations

 

  • Impaired driving
  • Careless driving

 

It's these sorts of violations that produce the greatest likelihood of injury and catastrophe on the roads, and the penalties are correspondingly severe. What's tragic is that they happen all the time—impaired driving in particular. In 2016, Ontarians combined for 14,765 counts of impaired driving, while all other Criminal Code traffic violations accounted for 13,397 incidents.

 

The most obvious penalty that could arise from one of these convictions is prison time. But even if you get out of prison, you'll likely be paying at least double on your monthly car insurance premiums.

 

The wildcard

 

  • Speeding

 

Speeding is a bit of an anomaly in all of this in that it represents a single type of violation, but it falls into different tiers depending on how egregious it is.

 

In Ontario, speeding fines are divided in subsections of 1-19 km/h, 20-29 km/h, 30-49 km/h, and 50+ km/h over the limit. Though the 20-29 km/h bracket could go either way depending on the circumstance, the others make up a rough snapshot of major-, minor-, and criminal-worthy speeding. Insurance adjustments will follow according to the general expectations outlined above.

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