Increase In Deadly Distracted Driving Cases Prompts OPP Campaign

Provincial Police are hoping to break a five-year trend of deadly distracted driving.

Statistics issued at the start of March Break show distracted driving has been the leading cause of highway fatalities for that long.

Across Ontario, on OPP patrolled roads, 83 people have died in crashes caused by distracted driving and 26 of those happened in the West Region which includes Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent.

Chatham-Kent OPP Constable Jay Denorer says says it's not hard to prevent being distracted by a mobile device. "The easiest way is just to put your phone down, turn it off.  Once it's off you're not going to get your messages.  I've heard more people are starting to do that.  If your phone does go off as you're driving, just leave it alone. There's nothing, no text that's that important."

"What happens if you do get in a collision? Now you have tow trucks and ambulances coming out, you're going to the hospital," says Denorer. "Or at worst you take somebody else's life and you have to explain to the police or their family that you were looking at a message or trying to send a message.  Now are you saying that message is worth somebody's life?  It's more important than a life?"

Denorer says if you are checking a text while driving this week, plan to get a ticket. "Over the March Break because there's more vehicles, typically more vehicles on the highway, because of the spring break, our mindset is it's going to be a zero tolerance. So if you're driving down the highway and you're on the phone or distracted in some other way, you're going to be pulled over and we're going to end up charging you for being distracted."

The fine for a first time offence is now $490 plus 3 demerit points.