Heading into its annual Distracted Driving campaign next week (March 14-20, 2016), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) confirmed that 2015 marked the third consecutive year that driver distraction as a causal factor exceeded all other categories of road deaths on OPP-patrolled roads.
Last year, 69 people died in road crashes in which driver distraction was a factor, compared to 61 speed-related, 51 seat belt-related and 45 alcohol/drug-related deaths.
Numerous studies have been conducted on the risks associated with distracted driving – in particular, texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. Many of these studies have confirmed that this form of distracted driving is as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Heading into March Break, road users need to be aware of how serious a threat distracted drivers are to their safety. Each year for the past three years (2013-2015), OPP officers have laid approximately 20,000 distracted driving charges throughout the province, which is more than double the number of impaired driving charges they laid over the same three-year period.
Over and above cell phone use, the OPP continues to lay numerous charges every year against motorists whose driving ability is compromised by other distractions such as eating, self-grooming, tending to kids in the back seat to name a few.
“If you are texting, talking on your cell phone or pre-occupied with other activities while behind the wheel, you are not driving safely. It does not suffice to keep your eyes on the road. Driving involves sharing space with drivers, their passengers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians and it is impossible to do so safely unless your eyes and mind are solely focused on driving.”
– J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes, Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner
“Distracted driving is just not worth it. It has been shown to be just as dangerous as drinking and driving – something we all know is wrong. Our government has worked hard to make our roads some of the safest in North America, including taking strong action against individuals who put themselves and others at risk by talking, texting and using electronic devices while driving. We all have a role to play in keeping our roads safe and I want to remind everyone to go hands-free and put your hand-held devices away. It can mean all the difference.”
– Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
The OPP is encouraging passengers of all ages to take a zero tolerance approach to distracted driving. Take charge of your own safety and speak up when you are in a vehicle being driven by someone who is not paying attention to the road and is endangering your life.