Motorists have heard the message about not using cell phones and mobile devices while driving, but many drivers still haven’t taken much of a message away.

“Inattentive drivers were behind the highest number of lives lost on OPP controlled roads, over the other three main road death factors. Those are impaired driving, aggressive driving and a lack of a seat-belt,” said Sergeant for the North West Region of the OPP, Shelley Garr.

“In the North West Region, 6 lives were lost related to distracted driving in 2017. The bottom line is that people still don’t seem to be getting the message of the dangers of distracted driving.”

With driver inattention being the deadliest behaviour on OPP-patrolled roads for the fifth consecutive year, the OPP is reminding everyone to adopt and maintain a zero tolerance for drivers who are engaged in any form of distraction behind the wheel. The OPP say that distracted driving encompasses much more than just putting your phone down while behind the wheel.

“We want to let people know that the true danger lies in the distraction, not the device. People will say, well can I eat a muffin on my way to work? Can I drink a coffee? We’re not advocating that these behaviours have to stop, the issue is what happens when people engage in these activities. It’s not that you can’t eat a muffin, it’s that the muffin distracts you and then a collision occurs. It’s not the device, it’s the distraction.”

“You can still face a distracted driving fine without anything to do with a cell phone. The three main types of distraction are visual – taking your eyes off of the road, manual – taking your hands off of the wheel, and cognitive – taking your mind off of what you are doing.”

The OPP have finalized the data from their recently-completed Distracted Driving Campaign. The OPP laid 2,589 charges against motorists across the province between March 12 and March 18. In northwestern Ontario, officers laid 64 distraction related charges.

63 of the 64 charges were drivers who were caught using handheld devices. If convicted with a distracted driving charge, a fully-licenced driver will receive a $490 fine if settled out of court, or a $1,000 fine if settled in court – as well as three demerit points.

The other charge was for careless driving – which is driving while engaged in another form of distraction. A Careless Driving charge under the Highway Traffic Act or Dangerous Driving under the Criminal Code of Canada can both lead to heavy fines and penalties.

“We’re suggesting that you should wait until you stop at a red light to have that drink of coffee or to change that radio station, whatever it is that you’re doing. Avoid that distraction while driving.”

For more information:
Distracted driving blitz