The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) report that 2016 marked the fourth consecutive year that inattentive drivers were behind the highest number of lives lost on OPP-patrolled roads over the other main causal factors in road fatalities, known as the 'Big Four'.
In total, 65 people died in OPP-investigated collisions last year in which an inattentive driver was either a contributing factor or the primary cause of the death. In comparison to the other Big Four categories, 2016 ended with 55 speed-related, 53 seatbelt-related and 45 alcohol-related deaths.
As officers get set to conduct their annual province-wide Distracted Driving Campaign, the OPP is looking to Ontarians to help with the educational component of the campaign - a role that remains critical to helping keep Ontario roads safe.
"Road deaths linked to distracted drivers will not let up unless every road user says 'enough is enough' and shows a complete intolerance for what continues to be the most life-threatening driver behaviour on our roads. Starting with this campaign, we want to see every Ontarian, especially passengers of all ages, take a firm stand against those who endanger their lives by using their cell phones or engaging in other forms of distractions behind the wheel," explained OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes.
With the exception of 2012, inattentive drivers have taken more lives on OPP-patrolled roads than speeding and alcohol-impaired drivers since Ontario distracted driving laws took effect in 2009.
A driver convicted of distracted driving faces a fine of $400, plus a victim surcharge and court fee, a fine of up to $1,000 if you receive a summons or fight your ticket, and three demerit points applied to your driver's record.
"Distracted driving continues to be a very serious challenge on our roads. It is particularly frustrating to see this behaviour - which is completely avoidable - cause the kind of carnage that it does. Even one death is one too many. It's time for all of us to put down our phones and speak up if we see our friends and family driving dangerously - together we can make this behaviour as socially unacceptable as impaired driving,” suggests Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation.