THUNDER BAY – Driving distracted is not safe. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) state that people driving distracted has been on of the causes in almost 5,000 collisions in Ontario so far this year. The cost in human lives is large. In 2010, by September there had been 55 fatal collisions that happened as a result of motor vehicle operators being distracted. Fortunately, this year that total is down to 35.
OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis says it’s time for drivers to do what the OPP is talking about. “The OPP does their best to provide insight and heighten awareness on the dangers of distracted driving but so what? The vast majority of drivers know it’s dangerous. They hear our safety messages but nothing changes because they have not taken action. Hundreds of people have close calls every day. They are consciously aware that they are making a poor decision when they text or use their cell phone while driving”, said Lewis.
Raising awareness is the goal over the week of September 12th to 18th. The OPP is following through on Week #3 of its 2011 distracted driving campaign “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other”. “Our goal is to give out as few tickets as possible”, says Deputy Commissioner Larry Beechey, Provincial Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support. “Our goal is to increase compliance with the existing legislation and one of the ways we do that is increasing the risk of being caught.”
Drivers in Ontario have been found texting, calling on their wireless devices, or watching movies while driving.
Holding a device capable of texting or phoning while driving can result in a fine of $155 under Section 78.1 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). Watching an entertainment device can result in a fine of $110 under Section 78 of the HTA. Other forms of distracted driving can result in a charge of Careless Driving with fines ranging from $400 to $2,000, a possible licence suspension of up to two years and/or a jail term of not more than six months.
The problem is, there appear to be more drivers than ever who are driving while distracted. As of July 31, 2011 the OPP had initiated nearly 10,000 tickets for distraction. That’s more than double compared to 2010.
This week was selected for the campaign because it coincides with the thousands of students returning to school. Drivers need to be vigilant with children walking to school, crossing busy streets and getting on and off school buses. It is critical that drivers dedicate their full attention to driving.
We Want to Hear From You: The OPP encourages the public to sign up and participate in our social media discussions by following the links to our social media accounts posted on the front page of the OPP website. Your are encouraged to post your true accounts of the distracted driving behaviour that you’ve seen on Ontario roads.
The OPP are asking, “Give us your thoughts on texting while driving or other distractions. Become the medium. Post your own safety message to those drivers that put us all at risk.
A thought, when you are surfing the Internet, and find animated gifs on a page, the ads distract your eye from what you are reading. The screen of your cellphone or a movie would be the same if not worse. Drive with care.
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