ONTARIO – Distracted driving is now the leading cause of death on Ontario roads. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will be launching its Distracted Driving Campaign over the March Break which will run from Saturday, March 8 to Friday, March 14, 2014.
In 2013, a total of 31 people died in collisions across the North East Region. Distracted driving was the contributing factor in 6 of the deaths while 2 deaths were alcohol related. Whereas, in 2012, a total of 33 people in the region died in collisions and 9 deaths were as a result of distracted driving and 3 deaths were alcohol related.
During last year’s Distracted Driving Campaign, a total of 94 charges were issued in North East Region relating to distracted driving and 4 charges of Careless Driving were laid as a result of distraction related incident.
Distracted driving refers to all forms of distracted or inattentive driving such as adjusting a vehicle’s radio, GPS unit, eating, drinking, using a hand-held device, self-grooming or tending to children in the back seat. “Drivers need to remember that the true danger to public safety lies in the distraction, NOT the device”, says Staff Sgt. Garry Mills, Detachment Commander at Sudbury OPP.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual – taking your eyes off the road
- Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing
Motorists need to be aware that if you cause a collision or leave the road because you’ve spilled your coffee, were applying makeup, were changing the radio station or were distracted by some other activity not related to driving, you could be charged with Careless Driving. Officers recommend that you carefully select the time you pursue activities that may be distracting while driving. If you have to change the radio station, do it while stopped at a red light for example. Drivers need to devote their entire attention to driving safely.
Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focused on the road while dialing and texting carries the highest degree of risk of all cell phone related activities.
The OPP is reminding motorists that on March 18, 2014, the $155 fine for using a handheld device while driving will be increasing to $280.