With the exception of Nunavut, every province and territory in Canada now has a ban on the use of cellphones while driving, and there’s a very good reason for that. If you ask Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Dave Woodford about this, he will tell you that car accidents in which drivers were distracted by using a handheld device, are becoming increasingly common nowadays, The Globe And Mail reports.
Sgt. Woodford says that law enforcement officials are struggling to deal with the problem of distracted driving. He noted that use of cellphones kills more drivers than booze does. Over a quarter of people killed on OPP-patrolled highways so far this year have been the result of “inattentiveness” while driving. And of those, the majority of those cases involved texting or talking on the phone while driving, the officer added.
“A lot of people are trying to hide it,” Sgt. Woodford said, referring to the ban. “Their eyes are off the road. Within three or four seconds, you’ve travelled across the length of a football field, and a lot can happen. Someone can cut in front of you. You slam on the brakes. Suddenly, you’re in the guard rail.”
Since Ontario’s ban was passed in 2009, distracted driving has grown as a cause for road fatalities, from 19%in 2010 to 26% so far this year. According to the CAA, drivers who talk on their cellphone are about 4 times more likely to crash. Meanwhile, drivers who are text messaging are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
“Everybody’s talking about it, so I think the excuse of ‘oh, we weren’t aware,’ is gone now,” Sgt. Woodford said, adding that there’s no age group or gender that’s guiltier than others. “For a lot of people, it’s a habit. And it’s hard to break that habit.”
Distracted driving has even surpassed impaired driving as a cause of road fatalities on OPP-patrolled roads, part of the reason why officers are gearing up for an upcoming Labour Day weekend blitz against it.
The campaign against distracted driving has received much attention recently, with celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Justin Bieber also taking up the cause.