Pay attention to the road when you’re behind the wheel.

Sounds simple, but OPP say it’s not happening nearly enough on the Ontario highways and roads police patrol.

OPP say 2016 marked the fourth consecutive year that inattentive drivers were behind the highest number of lives lost on OPP-patrolled roads, compared to the other main factors causing road fatalities, known as the ‘Big Four’.

In total, 65 people died in OPP-investigated collisions last year in which an inattentive driver was either a contributing factor or the primary cause of the death.

In comparison to the other Big Four categories, 2016 ended with 55 speed-related, 53 seatbelt-related and 45 alcohol-related deaths.

This year’s distracted driving campaign is March 13-19, during the March Break.

“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 Vince Hawkes.

“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’s distracted driving laws took effect in 2009.

“The OPP’s distracted driving campaign is an important reminder to put the phone away and focus on driving,” said Marie-France Lalonde, Ontario’s minister of community safety and correctional services.

“When young people are needlessly injured or killed as a result of distracted driving, my heart aches. Losing a loved one, losing a child, is one of the worst things imaginable – the text can wait.”

Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s minister of transportation, said he agreed.

“It is particularly frustrating to see this behaviour – which is completely avoidable – cause the kind of carnage that it does. Even one death is one too many,” he said of distracted driving.

“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.”

In January, Huronia West OPP stopped and charged 30 motorists for distracted driving during several hours of patrols in both Elmvale and Wasaga Beach.

Police said one driver failed to stop for a red light, narrowly missing two pedestrians who were crossing the street. OPP did not release details about the nature of the distracted driving offences, however.

A motorist convicted of distracted driving faces a fine of $400, plus a victim surcharge and court fee, a fine of as much as $1,000 if you receive a summons or fight your ticket, and three demerit points applied to your driver’s record.

In Ontario, it’s against the law to:

*operate hand-held communication/electronic entertainment devices while driving

*view display screens unrelated to driving

Examples of hand-held devices include:

*iPods, MP3 players

*GPS

*cellphones

*smart phones

*laptops

*DVD players

Source: Ontario Ministry of Transportation

Article source: Barrie Examiner

 

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