Local figures take part in first annual Distracted Driving Derby

Local politicians and public figures put on their best juggling act behind the wheel for the first ever CAA Niagara Distracted Driving Derby.

CAA, Aapex Driving Academy, Niagara Regional Police, OPP, and the MTO put together an outdoor driving course and then asked local celebrities to climb behind the wheel of a pedal car to see how quickly their abilities deteriorated when their minds weren't completely focused on the road.

A chorus of laughter and gasps rang over the parking lot of the Pen Centre as they veered off course, rammed into pylons, and accidentally hit each other.

President of CAA Niagara Peter Van Hezewyk says it was all in good fun, but there is a serious message at heart.

"It's not just a Niagara issue, it's a Canadian issue, it's an international issue. We know that distracted driving is responsible for almost half of all serious accidents and deaths on our roadway."

Participants were asked to have a snack, take pictures, tweet, and even read a map while manoeuvring the course.

Regional Chair Alan Caslin laughed after the 'success' of his run, but he too acknowledges the high stakes of driving distracted.

"We've all seen distracted driving, we've all experienced it, and many of us have done it. So we need to be aware that there are serious risks and the consequences are tragic."

CAA Niagara will be at the Pen Centre for most of the day, giving the public a chance to try their hand a virtual distracted driving simulator.