OPP Launches Education and Enforcement Blitz
ORILLIA, ON, May 9 /CNW/ - How many people would knowingly get in a
vehicle with a drunk driver? Would you speak out if a friend, family
member or loved one was driving while impaired or would you just sit
and wait to be a victim? Would you intervene if a friend or family
member was talking on a hand-held phone, or texting while driving?
Research conducted in Canada and the U.S. has identified and documented
the increased risks and negative impacts associated with distracted
The OPP has declared: "Enough is enough!" The lack of voluntary
compliance by many motorists regarding the use of hand-held devices,
and other forms of distracted driving, has prompted one of the largest
enforcement campaigns in recent OPP history. The week of May 16 to May 22 will be the first of four one-week enforcement campaigns focusing on
distracted driving, over the next 12 months. Education efforts are also
being stepped up, using a number of innovative resources.
"People need to understand the level of risk they are dealing with;
distracted driving kills! We know it is seriously under-reported in our
statistics and is a major cause of collisions in Ontario," says Chief
Superintendent Bill Grodzinski, Commander of the OPP Highway Safety
Distracted driving is defined as engaging in any secondary activity
which takes a driver's attention away from driving and can include:
adjusting the radio, searching for something in the car; eating while
driving, watching an entertainment monitor or using a hand-held
communications device or other entertainment device.
Using a cell phone or device capable of texting while driving can result
in a fine of $155 under Section 78.1 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). Watching an entertainment device 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.
"Driving while distracted is bad judgement, plain and simple. There is
no place for it on our roads. It is every driver's responsibility to
devote their full attention to driving," says OPP Deputy Commissioner
Larry Beechey, the Provincial Commander of Traffic Safety and
OPP personnel will be working with the media, schools, other law
enforcement partners, road safety advocates, the Ministry of
Transportation and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to
educate drivers over the coming year about the dangers of distracted
driving. The OPP has added distracted driving to its list of "Big Four"
causal factors for death and injuries on Ontario highways. The other
three are: aggressive driving, failure to use restraint devices and
driving while impaired.
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.
A video on the same subject is available on the same page.
Fast Facts on Distracted Driving
In 2010, the OPP charged 8,522 drivers under Section 78.1 of the HTA for using a hand-held device
Police began enforcing the new distraction legislation in January 2010.
In 2010, there were 7,733 collisions on OPP-patrolled roads where the driver was deemed to be
inattentive/distracted, resulting in 35 deaths, 1,040 injuries and considerable property damage. (Note: The preceding statistics refer to all forms of
distracted/inattentive driving, not just the use of hand-held devices
as outlined in Section 78.1, HTA.)
A recent study by researchers at the University of Utah concluded that
drivers on mobile phones are more impaired than drivers driving over
the legal limit.
A Canadian Automobile Association poll of 6,000 Canadian drivers found
that "texting while driving" is the single biggest traffic safety
concern of drivers while on the road.
A recent Ontario Health E-Bulletin indicated: "Teen-driver car crashes
remain the leading cause of permanent injury and death in Canada, the
United States and almost every industrialized nation world wide". The
main culprit is teenage overconfidence in emerging driving skills and a
failure to acknowledge personal limitations. Teenagers falsely believe
they can "drive distracted" without increasing the risk of a serious
University of Utah Study
Canadian Automobile Association Poll
Ontario Health E-Bulletin
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) 284-4500
North East Region: Inspector Mark Andrews Phone: (705) 471-0704
North West Region: Sergeant Shelley Garr Phone: (807) 473-2734
Western Region: Sergeant Dave Rektor Phone: (519) 652-4156