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Distracted driving fine hikes to $280 this month

Constable Anthony Mann with PECI student Tyler Allison and the health unit's Kerri Jianopoulos show off the new On the Road, Off the Phone signs to be placed on roads around the school this spring. In the background, students participating in the presentation hold up phone covers designed as reminders to put their phones away when driving.

Constable Anthony Mann with PECI student Tyler Allison and the health unit’s Kerri Jianopoulos show off the new ‘On the Road, Off the Phone’ signs to be placed on roads around the school this spring. In the background, students hold up phone covers designed to be useful reminders to put their phones away when driving.

Students who are soon to get behind the wheel learned distracted driving is now the number one killer on Ontario highways – but they can do something to change that statistic.

Members of Greer Koutroulides’ Grade 10 class had front-row seats Monday morning to an interactive presentation focused on the risks and consequences of using cell phones while driving.

“We continue to see collisions and injuries on our highways and we need to start addressing motorists before they become motorists,” said Anthony Mann, PEC OPP Community Services Officer. “Now is the time to instill safeguards and good, safe driving habits.”

Mann, and public health nurse Kerri Jianopoulos, conducted the presentation, which was designed by the Quinte Region Traffic Coalition and the local health unit.

They opened with a short video to demonstrate a point:

“We think we are seeing, but in fact, when you’re focused on something else, like talking on a cell phone, you might miss things,” said Jianopoulos, following the video. “A lot of people pride themselves on multi-tasking but the fact is our brain only does one task at a time so when we relate that to using a cell phone, it is impossible to focus on driving.”

The presentation, also included a graphic public service message made in the UK, showing teens in a collision as a result of texting while driving.

The students were silent as they watched. A few looked away briefly while witnessing the graphic video.

“The video was made in the UK, but the man there who arrived on the scene was me, once, here in Prince Edward County,” said Constable Mann, following the video. “I was the first officer on the scene. It was not a fog I was walking into. It was the debris from the collision. Distracted driving was the cause. It was totally preventable.”

how-cell-phones-distractMann explained to the students that the only exception for using a cell phone while driving is to call 911.

“Police can use their phones while driving and I often get called on that as to why,” he said. “Police use radio communications but only one person can talk at a time. So recently I was heading to a call regarding use of a gun in Picton. I was coming from Bloomfield with my lights and sirens on. I was on my phone and I got looks from people. That’s the reason I was using my phone. I can’t stop and tell people that.”

The OPP will focus on distracted driving involving people of all ages during a campaign March 8-14. On March 18 the current distracted driving fine of $155 will jump to $280 (this includes the increased $225 fine plus a $50 victim fine surcharge and $5 court cost).

In 2013, distracted driving fatalities surpassed both impaired and speed related fatalities in fatal motor vehicle collisions. Seventy-eight people died in distracted driving related collisions compared to 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed related deaths last year.

the-law“When you consider the overall impact of these 78 fatalities last year and the 325 other distracted driving victims who have died since 2010, the number of people these irresponsible drivers have had a profound and devastating impact on is in the thousands,” said OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support. “Everyone, from the victims’ families and friends to the police officers who attend these horrific collision scenes and have to notify next-of-kin, knows the emotional impact of one life lost to this senseless driving behavior trickles down to so many people who, sadly, through experience, know how badly this behaviour needs to stop,” he added.

The OPP recognizes that the only way to stop people from dying in distracted driving related collisions is to raise awareness of how serious the problem is and to have everyone make a firm, lifelong commitment to helping the police and safety partners eliminate it altogether.

It can be done.

“Over and above every driver pledging to never text or talk on the phone, pledge to be a good passenger and speak up if the driver in your car is using his/her phone or engaged in other forms of distraction.

Pledge to regularly encourage friends and family to not be distracted while driving – it is a fail-proof way to eliminate tragic deaths because of distracted drivers.

PECI students paid rapt attention to the public service videos.

PECI students paid close attention to the public service videos.

 

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  1. Sam says:

    While I do agree with some of Aaron’s arguments, I disagree with his statement that CB radios are far more distracting than modern cell phones. As a transport driver with more than 10 years experience, I can say that CBs spend 99% of the time on channel 19 and all that is required of the operator is to hold the mic in front of their mouth and push a button. I can do it in the dark and without taking by eyes off of the road. It is no more distracting than taking a drink of coffee and less distracting than changing the music radio station or even adjusting the climate controls. Even older cell phones with their 12 buttons were less distracting. You could feel the buttons and you know what you were pressing. I could dial a number without looking. Try doing that today with the touch screen smartphones.

    I am in no way suggesting that distracted driving is not a problem, just that transport drivers, police, taxi drivers, tow truck drivers and ambulance drivers using their CB or CB style radios with a one-button microphone are not, and have not, been a risk to public safety. That is why they are exempt from the hands-free rules.

  2. Aaron says:

    Not a serious issue at all. The serious issues are:
    1-Stupid people.
    2-Decades of failure to enforce traffic laws have contributed to the development of seriously dangerous driver habits.
    3-Failure to ensure drivers are properly trained and capable of driving safely before getting their license.
    4-Supposed “safe driving” campaigns like this one, that fail to address real issues and distract from real issues.

    This stupid campaign and fad is proof of people’s stupidity & gullibility and it’s far worse than I had assumed. A recent CTV news poll showed an astonishing 57% of people believe that “distracted driving” is more dangerous than drunk driving. THAT’S the danger folks! 57% of people are morons and should never be allowed to drive on our roads. As long as they are allowed on our roads, then safe driving is not being taken seriously and we are all at risk. Smart, capable & properly trained/experienced drivers (like Police Officers) are able to drive and talk on a handheld device, with relative ease & safety. CB’s have been in vehicles for 60+ years and are far more distracting than any modern cell phone. If handheld devices are sooo dangerous and distracting, then how come the problems weren’t apparent with the introduction of CB radios over half a century ago? The differences are skill level, training, driver competence and there used to be legal consequences that prevented bad drivers from developing such dangerous habits. If distracted driving were as dangerous as drunk driving, who in their right mind would tolerate the Police being exempt? Logic should dictate that if they’re exempt from the “supposed greater” risk of distracted driving, then shouldn’t they be also exempt for the “supposed lesser” risk of drunk driving? Of course not, that’s ridiculous. I’ll repeat, the 57% of people who think distracted driving is a greater danger than drunk driving are morons.

    Regardless of the stats, it is people’s inability to avoid collisions and to avoid the vehicle maneuvers that make collisions possible that are a danger. That people involved in some collisions may or may not have distracted is as relevant as whether or not they were all wearing clothing. If we know nothing of their training, IQ & driver habits how can we determine the cause of their collisions? While there may be slight degree of distraction involved, cd players, radios, maps, snacks, others passengers, etc…Drivers have dealt with distractions of all types since the invention of the car, if you can’t manage them, then you can’t drive and shouldn’t be driving (period).

  3. Marc V. says:

    This is a very serious issue. Please take a moment to view and share the following PSA video against texting and driving, which was done as a collaboration between the Algonquin College School of Media & Design in Ottawa, and the Ottawa Police Service.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX1yD4L_cwo

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