A quick Google search turns up dozens of hashtags connected to social media posts with people taking images while driving, such as #drivingselfie and #drivingtowork, all of which – by the way – are illegal. Despite the increase in public education on the dangers of distracted driving, we continue to see an increase in multitasking behind the wheel. Each year, driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America.
All Canadian provinces ban the use of handheld communication devices behind the wheel. Ontario also bans the use of hand-held electronic entertainment devices – such as iPods and MP3s – while driving. This means taking a selfie, liking your friend’s status on Facebook, retweeting, sending a text or answering a phone call are all illegal and will cost you between $100 and $400 in fines.
The fines are not all you have to worry about. Recently released police reports say distracted driving kills more people in Canada than impaired driving. In Ontario, police say over a quarter of the deaths this year on roads have been the result of “inattentiveness” while driving. The majority of those cases involved texting or talking on the phone while driving.
There is no surprise that for the third year in a row Canadians have identified texting while driving as their number one safety concern, continuing to surpass drinking and driving.
As CAA sees an increase in fatalities related to distracted driving, we have made it a priority to increase awareness of this issue. CAA Members and the Canadian public can expect to see a new campaign released this fall to help bring more attention to this potentially deadly issue.
CAA’s interactive tool, found online at Distracted Driving gives information on distractions and their hazards.
Put the brakes on distracted driving
Be honest. You have a hard time walking on a busy sidewalk while you’re texting. Put the dangers of cellphone use and driving into perspective. If you send even a short text at highway speeds, from the time you look at your screen to the time you look back at the road, you will have travelled about the length of a football field. Distracted driving is a major factor in fatal accidents, catching up to impaired driving and speeding. To prevent this, the provincial government is making moves to keep our eyes on the road. Unless you’re stopped at the side of the road with your engine off, any drivers caught on their phones, no matter what they’re doing—texting, talking, fiddling with the device’s GPS—face a fine of $280 (up from $150 in March). So, if the danger isn’t enough to put away your phones, the law should be.
This article is courtesy of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
CAA, one of the largest consumer-based organizations in Canada, provides exceptional Emergency Roadside Service, complete Automotive and Travel Services, Member Savings and comprehensive Insurance Services for 6 million members at 9 automobile clubs and 140 offices across the country.
One of CAA’s first campaigns pushed the government to roll out the high-tech safety device of the day – the ‘STOP sign’. Since then, CAA has been at the forefront of every safety and infrastructure milestone in Canada - from the Trans-Canada Highway to seatbelts, from major reinvestments in roadways to airbags.
CAA has been a part of the fabric of Canadian life for almost 100 years - and it is stronger than ever.