Digital Pink Slips and Distracted Driving: What are the Rules?

Pink slips have gone digital – how does that work with distracted driving laws?

Alex Kelly
by Alex Kelly
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No one ever likes to think about the possibility of getting pulled over  the awkward shuffling as you gather documents and hand them over to a police officer, the nervous waiting while they review them. But it is something that you can prepare for; having your documents together and ready can help the situation move faster and smoother. 

Pink slip refresh

The pink slip details essential information like the vehicle insurance provider, the vehicle’s owner, and their address. It is proof that your car is insured to be on the road – a legal requirement for vehicle ownership. If the police pull you over, the officer will request your pink slip along with your licence and vehicle registration to ensure that the car – and the driver – is legally allowed to be on the road. It also allows officers to check any records that may be associated with your vehicle. If you are involved in a collision, the pink slip will provide necessary insurance information to all parties involved.

In 2019, Ontario announced that insurance companies can now offer a digital version of pink slips to their customers for mobile phone storage. This move was to modernize the system; the digital version of the slip carries all the same information, just in a new format. This may blur the lines for some drivers, as having your phone in hand while behind the wheel is never recommended. 

Best practice

As with any new change in routine, it is important to nail the best practices before heading out. Pulling up your pink slip should be done when your car is stopped, and in the parked position. Anything different would contravene distracted driving legislation. 

If a police officer has signalled you to pull over, the Highway Traffic Act dictates that you must come to a complete and safe stop. Once you’ve parked, only then you can access your phone. Additionally, parking your car ensures that while you’re dealing with the officer, the car stays in one place, and you can focus on answering any questions and providing information. Similarly, if you are accessing the digital pink slip following a collision, doing so in a safe and parked manner will prevent any further damages or incidents.  

If requested to show your digital pink slip at a traffic stop, it’s a good idea to talk through your movements with the officer to let them know you’re reaching for your phone to show an insurance document. 

While Ontario has made digital pink slips available, it is essential to note that the same modernization may not follow suit in other provinces or states. It is worth checking the regulations in neighbouring jurisdictions before you head out for your road trip, and ask your insurance provider any coverage questions before leaving the province. 

Digital safety

With personal privacy in mind, the government mandated that digital pink slips be available with a lock screen function. A lock screen ensures that if you have to hand your phone to a police officer, the rest of your phone’s information is secure from viewing. Note that the phone has to be able to display the pink slip clearly and all the relevant information – a cracked screen or dead battery will not be a valid excuse if you’re pulled over. 

It’s critical for vehicles with multiple drivers that there is always a copy of the pink slip in the car when it is being operated. Other drivers will need to be emailed a copy or have downloaded the insurance provider’s mobile app and sign in to view the pink slip, which will preserve the ability to lock the screen if pulled over. 

If this all feels like a lot to manage, rest assured – you can still request a traditional printed version from your insurer. Keeping a physical copy will ensure you always have it on hand, even if your phone dies or a different driver uses the car.

Going digital with your insurance pink slip will make vital information much more accessible, and knowing how and when to use it will help keep you safe, and on the right side of the law. 

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