Distracted driving is now the leading cause of death on Ontario roads, the OPP says as it kicks off its Distracted Driving Campaign, which runs to March 14.
Last year, 31 people died in collisions across the northeast region. Distracted driving was the contributing factor in six of the deaths, while two deaths were alcohol related.
In 2012, 33 people in the region died in collisions. Nine of those deaths were as a result of distracted driving and three deaths were alcohol related.
During last year’s Distracted Driving Campaign, a total of 94 charges were issued in the northeast region relating to distracted driving. Four charges of careless driving were laid as a result of distraction-related incidents.
Distracted driving refers to all forms of distracted or inattentive driving, such as adjusting a vehicle’s radio, GPS unit, eating, drinking, using a hand-held device, self-grooming or tending to children.
There are three main types of distraction:
visual – taking your eyes off the road;
manual – taking your hands off the wheel;
cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing.
Motorists need to be aware that if you cause a collision or leave the road because you’ve spilled your coffee, were applying makeup, were changing the radio station or were distracted by some other activity not related to driving, you could be charged with careless driving.
Officers recommend carefully selecting the time you pursue activities that may be distracting. If you have to change the radio station, do it while stopped at a red light, for example.
Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focused on the road.
The OPP reminds motorists that as of March 18, the $155 fine for using a handheld device while driving will be increasing to $280.