September 7, 2016 6:45 pm
Updated: September 7, 2016 9:15 pm

Distracted driving deaths outpacing impaired driving deaths

WATCH ABOVE: Distracted driving now causes such a hazard on the road it leads to more deaths than drunk driving in some places. Despite efforts to curtail the dangerous habit, the message still isn't getting through. Mike Drolet reports.

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Distracted driving is increasingly becoming more deadly than drunk driving.

In Ontario last month, deaths attributed to distracted driving were double that of impaired driving — 38 versus 19 — and the number of people charged with the offence now exceeds 8,800 for the year.

READ MORE: Should distracted driving be a criminal offence? Quebec urges Ottawa to consider it

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It’s a problem that has police in jurisdictions across Canada launching a blitzes to try and change driver behaviour. But, by some accounts, it’s not working.

The problem, police say, is changing attitudes.

“You wouldn’t get into a vehicle with an impaired driver but it seems people will still get in vehicle with driver who has a phone,” said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

To make a difference have to make it socially unacceptable.

“We have a real serious problem with distracted driving right now,” OPP Supt. Chuck Cox added. “And we need to employ the same techniques, and same enforcement we’ve done with impaired driving.”

READ MORE: Top 5 misconceptions about distracted driving as seasonal campaign kicks off

WATCH: Police forces routinely hand out fines for distracted driving, but is it time to take things a step further and make it a criminal offence. Vassy Kapelos reports. 

But the level of law enforcement doesn’t do much to allay the frustrations of people like Winnipeg’s Cheryl Derry.

She lost her husband, Mark, five years ago to a drunk driver who was also texting.

In April of this year, police in Winnipeg targeted distracted drivers for 30 days and eventually laid 1,300 charges.

But Derry said she’s seen little improvement other than drivers are getting better at hiding their phones.

“I still see the same amount of people texting and driving,” she said. “My kids don’t have a father. A 20-year-old went to jail because of what he did. He has to live with consequences of killing someone.”

WATCH: Emotional anniversary for distracted driving victim’s family

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