May 9, 2011
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 driving.
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 Division.
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 Operational Support.
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
University of Utah Study
Canadian Automobile Association Poll
Ontario Health E-Bulletin
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