“If you are texting, you are not driving safely” says OPP Commissioner
This is the “official” OPP annual Distracted Driving campaign week although it should be every week of the year. Distracted driving has become a very serious and dangerous practice on our roads and it is more than just “getting a fine”. 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 spring and summer when we drive more, 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” said J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes, Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner
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.