Distracted driving campaign begins

MANITOULIN–The Province of Ontario has deemed Saturday, March 14 through to Friday, March 20 as Distracted Driving Week. Members of the Manitoulin Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will be stepping up enforcement in support of this initiative.

Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from driving. Some types of distractions include: adjusting the stereo, searching for something in the car, eating or drinking while driving, using a hand-held device, grooming, watching television or other entertainment devices, tending to children in the back seat and more.

The law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, and dial or email using hand-held cell phones, or other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. ‘Hands-free’ means that the device is not held during use and the driver is not physically interacting with or manipulating it. Actions such as dialing or scrolling through contacts, or manually programming a GPS device, for example, are illegal.

Text messaging requires:

  • Visual attention – taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual attention – taking your hands off the wheel, and
  • Cognitive attention – taking your mind off what you are doing

Many drivers today tend to view driving as a simple everyday task that requires minimal attention. The reality is that driving is a complex task that requires your full attention. Remember, you are operating a heavy piece of machinery at high speeds, navigating in diverse weather conditions, while calculating speeds and distance plus always responding to other drivers and obstacles.

The dangers of distracted driving are real and the evidence speaks for itself. Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a collision than a driver who is focused on the road. The fine for using hand-held phones or entertainment devices while driving is $280 including the victim surcharge and court fee. Drivers who drive without due care and attention and allow themselves to be distracted by other activities can also be charged with the more serious offence of Careless Driving, depending on the circumstances. All distractions while driving endanger lives. No one should lose their life or suffer serious injury because a driver was not devoting his or her full attention to the road.