OPP Cracking Down On Distracted Driving

The Ontario Provincial Police are urging people to pay attention when behind the wheel.

Constable Jay Denorer says drivers still aren't getting the message as distracted driving continues to be a problem.

Over the Labour Day weekend, Essex County OPP laid a total of 265 charges including nine for distracted driving.

Denorer says, so far this year, more than 5,600 collisions in Ontario have involved an inattentive driver with 31 people losing their lives.  

"It's so avoidable. The minute you get into a car, put your phone down. Stop that distraction. Shut it off and then get your messages when you stop. Turn it back on and get your messages. Turn the volume right down. Just keep your attention on the road. The way things are today, a lot of construction, just focus on the road and drive properly."

He says some drivers claim to be good multi-taskers, but that's no excuse.

"It's a message that needs to get across to a lot of people and I don't know if it comes down to somebody is driving and they think that, "It's not going to happen to me and I'm only going to check it for a second", but, on average, when you look at a phone message you're distracted from the road for five seconds. In five seconds, a lot can happen."

Denorer says with children and students returning to school this week there will be zero tolerance.

"Chatham-Kent had 10 listed collisions due to inattentive drivers. Essex had 227. That's a lot of drivers in both areas that aren't paying attention to the road. If you have to now look up and then see what's going on and then react, you're reaction time is going to be a lot slower."

In addition to distracted driving violations, 175 speeding and six stunt driving charges were laid over the holiday weekend as well.

On January 1, 2019 penalties for distracted driving will increase to fines up to $1,000, three demerit points and a three day licence suspension.

— with files from AM800's Peter Langille