More than 140 Nova Scotians were killed or involved in a serious collision due to distracted driving in 2016, according to statistics released by RCMP.
“Having a number like that is far too many and the these situations are preventable,” Cpl. Dal Hutchinson said, a member of Halifax District RCMP.
Police say distracted driving is classified as anything that takes your eyes off the road.
In 2008, Nova Scotia implemented a law prohibiting anyone from using their cellphone while driving.
“Distracted driving, just the same as impaired driving, it has long-term consequences. So that’s why it’s really important to ingrain it in your mind, to stop, to refrain from doing it,” Hutchinson said.
Impaired driving is a criminal code offence in Canada, but distracted driving isn’t.
But there have been calls to the federal government for that to change.
Quebec’s Premier, Philippe Couillard, wants Ottawa to criminalize distracted driving.
A message that for now, Hutchinson said he believes comes down to moral responsibility.
“I think ultimately at the end of the day, it’s up to the individual to make a good decision, a good choice,” he said. “It seems like other issues that we’re faced with, the higher the fines, the stiffer the penalties, it still does not deter some people from making the right choice.”
The consequences of distracted driving is a topic the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has done extensive research on.
“Our research shows that 80 per cent of motor vehicle accidents could be avoided with one more second in reaction time,” said Gary Howard, the director of communications for CAA Atlantic.
Howard said drivers need to think twice before using their cellphones behind the wheel.
READ MORE: Texting while driving still a problem: CAA
“Texting for five seconds, you can travel the length of a football field. So imagine closing your eyes for five seconds while you drive, serious implications and we fully support police agencies in terms of getting this message out,” Howard said.
RCMP encourage drivers to use a hands-free device or Bluetooth while driving and to take an online pledge dedicating themselves to responsible driving practices.