All levels of policing in Ontario are concerned with the level of distracted driving that they are seeing and hearing about. I see it, and I am sure you do too. Just stand at a stop sign or traffic lights and you see people fiddling with their phones in their laps or holding them up at the wheel. Drive down the highway and people are talking and texting behind the wheel regularly.
Guelph police set up on foot patrol and conducted a blitz in downtown last month and in an hour they handed out six distracted driving tickets at a single intersection. They were there between 11 a.m. and noon. The police were able to catch a lot of people who were not following the rules of the road. They are putting themselves and others at risk by driving with the distraction of their phones.
Police indicate that distracted driving is as big a problem as impaired driving is, and people aren’t getting the message that distracted driving poses a huge risk. Education is only part of the solution. Enforcement and new technology should be used as well. The new operating systems on several phones now include an option that allow your phone to go to ‘driving mode’. When you are in a car your phone will automatically silence notifications and let people know who are texting/calling you that you are behind the wheel. When you get out of the car you get all the notifications.
Other technical solutions could include the cars themselves blocking notifications to phones while the car is driving. This would stop many people from being tempted to look/answer/read their notifications as they drive. Phones can also be set to hands free so that you don’t need to be fiddling with the device, although even hands-free phone use has been shown to distract the driver from the task at hand (driving).
The fine for distracted driving is now $490 and 3 demerit points. This will have an impact on your car insurance as well. In Ontario distracted driving is defined as:
Using your phone to talk, text, check maps or choose a playlist while you’re behind the wheel all count as distracted driving – and they put you and others at risk.
Other activities like eating, reading or typing a destination into a GPS are also dangerous when you’re behind the wheel.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on a highway or stopped at a red light – distracted driving could cost you.
Deaths from distracted driving have doubles since 2000
In Ontario one person is injured every half hour due to distracted driving collisions
People on their phones are FOUR times more likely to be in a crash
If you need to use your phone pull over at a safe location first
Place your phone in the trunk or back seat or into your bag to avoid distraction
Place your phone on car mode or silent to avoid distraction and temptation
Have your passengers deal with your calls or texts