"What You Do Behind the Wheel is a Big Deal" says OPP

Distracted Driving Victim's Family Helps OPP Reach Out to Ontario Drivers

ORILLIA, ON, Feb. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - As the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) readies for the final week of its four Distracted Driving campaigns conducted periodically over the last year, they are warning drivers about the "no excuses, no exceptions" approach they'll be taking as they target distracted drivers throughout Ontario.

From February 13-19, 2012, the OPP will be conducting highly-visible enforcement of distracted driving laws in an effort to protect drivers, their passengers and other road users from the needless loss of life on our roads.   

The OPP is also warning drivers that any activity that takes your attention away from driving is dangerous. This isn't just about using a phone or texting while driving.  Even day dreaming can create a situation where the driver misses something important which results in a bad decision behind the wheel.

"We're only five weeks into the new year and eight (8) people have died already in distraction-related collisions on OPP patrolled roads and that's more than impaired driving and speeding fatalities combined," said Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander of the OPP Highway Safety Division.  "Whether you're texting, talking, reading or shaving, a diversion - any diversion of attention that lowers one's ability to focus on driving can happen and within seconds, someone else could die," added Bell.

Sydney and Suzanne Soulière are far too familiar with the dangers of distracted driving. Sadly, they lost their 18 year-old son Damon in a distracted driving incident on May 28, 2011. Damon was on his way home from North Bay, Ontario when he began texting while driving. His vehicle crossed the centre line, collided with a tractor-trailor and Damon died as a result of the collision.   

"For the love of our son and his accomplishments, please don't be distracted and drive - no more excuses!  We know it kills or injures and you're risking your life and the lives of others on the road.  We hope the death of our son and those who have died, young and old, due to distracted driving show you that it's not worth it.  Believe us, it's not!  Our son was going into the Armed Forces to serve his country and help people. He was a good boy who made a mistake and now, getting the message out about the dangers of distracted driving is the only way he can help."

The Soulieres invite the media and public to check out Damon's Facebook Page to see him as an 18 year-old captain of his high school rugby team and a Canadian Forces soldier who would have been finishing his first year of university.

The Souliere family is one of many of families to whom the OPP has made next-of-kin notifications following fatal distracted driving incidents in Ontario.  They know first-hand that a distracted driving collision is the last thing these families imagine losing a loved one to and they are relying on every single driver in Ontario to help put an end to these tragic deaths.      

Using a cell phone or device capable of texting while driving can result in a fine of $155 under Section 78.1 of the HTA.  Just watching an entertainment device (like a movie on your tablet) can result in a fine of $110 under Section 78 of the HTA. Other forms of distracted driving can result in a charge of Careless Driving with fines ranging from $400 to $2,000, a possible licence suspension of up to two years and/or a jail term of not more than six months depending on the circumstances.

The OPP's Distracted Driving campaign serves to heighten awareness and ultimately reduce collisions, but the OPP is reminding motorists that enforcement of distraction legislation is a priority every day. Every driver has the responsibility to become part of the solution. 

Learn More

How Distracted Driving Affects You

Roads Not Getting Safer, Canadians Tell CAA

Media Resources

Radio stations are invited to download and use Public Service Announcements about the dangers of distracted driving from http://www.opp.ca/ecms/index.php?id=545.

SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police

For further information:

Contacts by OPP Region:

Highway Safety Division: Sergeant Dave Woodford  Phone: (416) 553-5471 
Central Region: Constable Peter Leon  Phone: (705) 329-7414
Eastern Region: Sergeant Kristine Rae  Phone: (613) 284-4557 
Northeast Region: Ms. Patty Gysel  Phone: (705) 475-2655
Northwest Region: Sergeant Shelley Garr  Phone: (807) 473-2734
Western Region: Sergeant Dave Rektor  Phone: (519) 652-4156


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