TORONTO – For the third year in a row, the Canadian Automobile Association is targeting distracted drivers with the launch of a six-week long safety campaign.
The aim is to raise awareness regarding high risk behaviours behind the wheel and to urge drivers to focus on the road.
“We urge you to talk to your family and friends about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving and to focus on what’s important, driving and arriving safely at your destination,” said Teresa Di Felice, Director of Government & Community Relations & Driver Education, CAA South Central Ontario in a media release.
Aside from keeping mobile devices turned off and stowed away, the CAA is reminding drivers not to eat, drink, apply makeup or smoke inside a vehicle.
Last year, the CAA launched a four-week distracted driving initiative called “MISSING”.
The campaign follows Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s promise this month to toughen penalties and add demerit points for distracted driving after a new study showed more than one-third of licensed Ontario students in Grades 10 to 12 reported having texted while behind the wheel at least once in the past year.
Parachute Canada, a non-profit preventative injury group, also launched a national initiative against texting and driving geared towards teens in June.
It is illegal in Ontario for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. However, hands-free devices are still permitted.
Drivers caught using a hand-held device are issued a $155 ticket.
- Since the ban on hand-held devices became Ontario law, the Ontario Provincial Police have issued more than 3,300 warnings to drivers.
- Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash than a driver focused on the road. Dialing and texting carry the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities.
- If a driver challenges the ticket in court, a judge has the discretion to adjust the fine anywhere in the range of $60 to $500.
According to the CAA, drivers who are engaged in the following distractions are more likely to be in a crash or a crash event compared with non-distracted drivers.
- Text messaging (or texting) on a cell phone — 23 times more likely
- Talking on a cell phone — 4 to 5 times more likely
- Reading — 3 times more likely
- Applying makeup — 3 times more likely
- Reaching for a moving object — 9 times more likely
- Dialing on a hand-held device — 3 times more likely
- Talking or listening on a hand-held device — 1.3 times more likely