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Toronto Police Launch Distracted Driving Campaign: ‘That Text or Call Could End It All’

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The Toronto Police Service (TPS) has kicked off a new distracted driving campaign today, with the tagline “That Text Or Call Could End It All”. The goal is to reduce the use of handheld devices while driving and police will be out in full force from February 19-28, 2018.

The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness through education and enforcement regarding the dangers of distracted driving. According to a press release, “officers will focus their attention on those drivers who choose to drive while distracted.”

Toronto police service

Distracted driving includes “any action that a driver engages in that takes their focus away from the safe operation of their vehicle, which includes, but is not limited to, the use of hand-held communication and entertainment devices.”

The TPS says since 2010, when distracted driving laws came into effect in Ontario, roughly 120,000 tickets have been used. According to 2016 collision statistics, 7,435 of 70,004 crashes reported to the TPS involved at least one “inattentive driver”.

According to the province of Ontario, if a driver is convicted of distracted driving, they will receive:

  • a fine of $400, plus a victim surcharge and court fee, for a total of $490 if settled out of court
  • fine of up to $1,000 if you receive a summons or fight your ticket
  • three demerit points applied to your driver’s record

The Toronto Police Service says this new distracted driving campaign is part of the City of Toronto—Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.

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  • Aleks Oniszczak

    I don’t take their efforts seriously since hands-free calling remains legal while driving. More than 30 studies have shown hands-free devices are no safer than handheld as the brain remains distracted by the cell phone conversation.

    If you don’t believe that, think of it this way – try driving while pretending to hold a phone up to your ear. Does that make it hard to drive? Maybe a little, but not much. A lot of people drive with one hand anyway, so it doesn’t matter much where you’re holding your other hand. What makes distracted driving dangerous is the focussing on the conversation itself – hands free or not.

  • swotam

    While I applaud their efforts, I don’t see it having much of an impact. I see endless examples on a daily basis of people being distracted by their smartphones while driving, and I’m sure these people know that they’re potentially risking their lives and the lives of others much of the time. The fact that they continue to use their devices instead of focusing on the operation of their vehicle suggests that they simply don’t care, or consider their short-term need to tap the screen more important than paying attention to their actions and the actions of those around them.

    Hell, it still amazes me when I see someone holding their phone to their head when, odds are, their vehicle allows them to use Bluetooth as a speakerphone, so I’m not at all surprised when I see people staring at their lap while the light turns green, or drifting out of their lane, because some Facebook notification just came in…

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    While I agree with most of what you say, it’s important to correct myths about distracted driving. Bluetooth does not make talking on the phone safe while driving. It’s the distraction of holding a conversation over the phone while driving that’s the problem. Studies show that it’s not when people are dialling that accidents occur, its during the conversations. People are smart enough to be extra careful while dialling to be relatively safe, but not smart enough to avoid the distraction of the conversation.

  • swotam

    I wasn’t necessarily suggesting that BT is safer, although in Ontario the assumption seems to be that it is since holding a phone to your head will get you a distracted driving ticket while using BT will not.

    I was more implying that a driver who can’t even be bothered to use BT in a vehicle where it’s standard equipment likely isn’t all that concerned with distracted driving to begin with.

    Also, I’d suggest that people who text or check social media / notifications while driving are a much bigger threat than those using BT to have a conversation. At least if I use BT while on the phone, my attention is still directed at the road, as opposed to staring at my phone in my lap.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Agreed. And sadly, Ontario road laws seem to be based on politics and not safety. Take for example everyone that has previously killed someone while driving. Where are they now? Back on the road. Does that make anyone feel safer? Mixing giant trucks, cars and motorcycles on the same roads? Sure, why not. What could go wrong? Safety is the least of their concerns.

  • gsd lkd

    Using your phone, like for typing or texting, is considered extremely dangerous by some. More than just talking on the phone etc.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    My take on it is that one might be slightly worse than the other – but the big point is that they are BOTH extremely dangerous BECAUSE YOU ARE DISTRACTED. Not because of where your hands are. Either one is about as dangerous as drunk driving. It might not be intuitive, but DISTRACTION is far worse than people think.

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