By Paolo Serpe
The Ontario Provincial Police is launching its Distracted Driver Campaign this Saturday and it will run until Friday, March 14.
Distracted driving is now the leading cause of death on Ontario roads. The OPP reports that an estimated 30 to 50 per cent of all collisions in Ontario are caused by distracted drivers, and because of under-reporting, that number is likely much higher.
Ralph Ireland of Sioux Lookout, Ont. experienced the dangers of distracted driving first-hand after colliding with a pickup truck on Highway 17, in Kenora, on Wednesday.
“Had I not hit the brakes, he’d be dead,” Ireland told CBC News. “And we might be as well.”
Ireland, who recorded the incident with a dashboard camera, was driving home with his wife from Winnipeg when a truck made a very late left-hand turn, leaving Ireland no time to avoid the impact.
A close-up image from the recording shows the 36-year-old Manitoba man was on a cell phone as he made the turn and likely wasn’t even aware of the Ireland’s oncoming vehicle.
Fines for using a handheld device will increase to $280 from $155 on March 18.
Students at Humber’s North Campus generally agree with the changes.
Tiana Johnson, a media communications student, understands the reasoning behind the fine increase.
“I think that’s a bit crazy, but it makes sense,” she said. “It’s other people’s lives we’re talking about.”
Ali Ali, in the electrical techniques program, said the fines should teach people to be more careful,
“People don’t want to lose money and money means time.”
The OPP defines three methods in which drivers can be distracted:
visual – taking your eyes off the road
manual – taking your hands off the wheel
cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing
Other forms of distracted driving including: eating and drinking, using a GPS and self-grooming can result in a careless driving charge, which carries a fine ranging from $400 to $2,000.