Drivers still aren't getting the message that texting, talking kills: OPP
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, September 1, 2017 3:37PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 1, 2017 6:23PM EDT
Police in Ontario are pleading with drivers to focus on the road, as new statistics show distracted driving is causing more collisions than speeding and impaired driving combined.
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Ontario Provincial Police statistics show there have been 6,360 collisions on the roads they patrol since Jan. 1, compared with 4,700 collisions due to speeding and 1,158 crashes due to drug or alcohol-impaired driving.
At least 47 people have died from the distracted-driving crashes, which often involve people using their phones to talk or send text messages. That’s up from 39 over the same period of time in 2016.
OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor tells CTV News Channel that despite years of education about fines related to distracted driving, “drivers still feel this right to pick up the cellphone and talk on it while they’re driving, or even texting.”
He says officers are catching people frequently who are so distracted that they don’t even realize there is a fully-marked cruiser driving beside them, trying to pull them over.
It’s not just phones that are a concern, he says.
“We have everything from pets on laps, to people reading books, reading maps while they’re driving, putting on makeup, shaving,” he adds. “One time … I pulled over a driver for playing a trumpet while driving.”
It may sound funny, he says, but it’s no joke. “It’s those mistakes that are killing people on the highway.”
‘Hands-free’ deceptively dangerous
Sgt. Rektor says that although using hands-free phone systems while driving is not illegal, studies have shown hands-free conversations can also dangerously distract.
Researchers from the University of Sussex found that hands-free phone conversations create so much competition for the brain’s “visual processing capacity” that drivers take far longer to notice obstacles on the road.