Distracted driving resulting in nearly twice as many deaths as impaired: OPP
The number of road deaths from distracted driving are on track to double the number of fatalities related to impaired driving this year for the first time since the laws were introduced in 2009, according to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
The OPP has investigated 38 road deaths in which an inattentive driver was involved as of mid-August, compared to 19 deaths involving an impaired driver.
“Don’t be a passenger of a distracted driver. Recognize that they are endangering your life. Speak up and insist that they focus on the road and on safe driving,” said OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair in a media release Tuesday. “By not doing so, you are contributing to the problem.”
The OPP says distracted drivers pose a similar threat to those impaired by alcohol, and is calling on the public to treat those who engage in the practice with a similar level of disdain.
The Ontario government banned distracted driving in 2009, and recently upped the fines for those caught using mobile devices, eating, or typing a destination into a GPS system to between $490 and $1,000. Offenders lose three demerit points if convicted.
A confrontation between an Ottawa motorcyclist and a distracted driver on Friday underscores the frustration of many who feel they are being put at risk by drivers who operate their smartphones behind the wheel.
Erik Hanna noticed the driver of an SUV using her smartphone at a light. Video from his helmet-mounted camera shows him tapping on the vehicle’s window to get the driver’s attention. The woman can be seen locking her doors, but doesn't respond. Moments later, the SUV speeds past Hanna, crossing into his lane and coming within inches of hitting him on his bike.
The video has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times on Facebook.
Even after the dangerous encounter, Hanna says he'll continue to remind drivers.
“In most cases, people smile at me and put the phone down...it was just what happened afterwards (in this case), but I will always remind people to get off their phone.”
With files from CTV Ottawa