Provincial police are sounding the alarm about distracted driving, saying 2016 marked the fourth year in a row that bad behaviour led to the highest number of deaths on OPP-patrolled roads.
Officers say 65 people died in collisions last year in which an inattentive driver was either a contributing factor or the primary cause of the death. That’s compared to 55 speed-related deaths, 53 seat belt and 45 alcohol-related deaths.
The stats come to light as the OPP prepares for its annual province-wide distracted driving campaign.
“Road deaths linked to distracted drivers will not let up unless every road user says ‘enough is enough’ and shows a complete intolerance for what continues to be the most life-threatening driver behaviour on our roads,” said OPP Commissioner J.V.N. Hawkes in a news release.
“Starting with this campaign, we want to see every Ontarian, especially passengers of all ages, take a firm stand against those who endanger their lives by using their cellphones or engaging in other forms of distractions behind the wheel.”
With the exception of 2012, inattentive drivers have taken more lives on OPP-patrolled roads than speeding and alcohol-impaired drivers since Ontario distracted driving laws took effect in 2009, police say.
“Distracted driving continues to be a very serious challenge on our roads. It is particularly frustrating to see this behaviour — which is completely avoidable — cause the kind of carnage that it does,” said Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation in a news release.
“Even one death is one too many. It’s time for all of us to put down our phones and speak up if we see our friends and family driving dangerously — together we can make this behaviour as socially unacceptable as impaired driving.”
A driver convicted of distracted driving could face a fine of $400, plus a victim surcharge and court fee, a fine of up to $1,000 if a driver receives a summons or fights their ticket, and three demerit points applied to their driver’s record.