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Distracted driving is easily one of the leading causes of crashes and collisions. Sadly this problem does not get its due recognition from motorists and truckers.
It took me years of analysing my own driving to realize that the reason I was missing key information while driving was that I was distracted. It wasn’t until I got involved in motorsports that I realised how important being focused on driving really is.
When I started to apply a higher level of concentration to my everyday driving I began to realize just how much driving information is available to all motorists and how much safer driving is when that information is taken in and processed by the driver.
I have talked with thousands of drivers at auto shows and at advanced driving schools and I can assure you that the average driver gives distracted driving far too little respect.
Many motorists believe they can talk and drive at the same time with little or no effect on their driving ability. This is such an important bit of misunderstanding that we’ve developed a simple driving test at our advanced driving schools to prove that even a simple conversation has a negative impact on any motorist’s ability to drive well.
In additiont, many motorists do not realize how many distractions there really are. It’s more than just cellphones. Any conversation, either by phone, text or with passengers, is distracting enough to cause vital driving information to be missed by the driver. GPS units, radios and dash consoles with displays also cause driver distraction.
It always pleases me to hear that police officers will be on the lookout for distracted driving. So I was quite happy to read the latest OPP press release.
Next week, from April 15 to 22, the Ontario Provincial Police will be gearing up for their Distracted Driving Campaign. And they are looking to the public to help make it a historic success.
“The OPP is asking drivers across Ontario to take a hard line on distracted driving once and for all by making Monday, April 15, the first day of a life-long commitment to keep all hand-held devices out of reach and out of use while behind the wheel,” the statement says. ” Those who use hand-held phones while driving also put the lives of their passengers at risk, and the OPP is asking passengers to take matters into their own hands by telling those who drive them while distracted to ‘put down the phone and leave it alone’ .”
The statement calls specific attention to the problem of texting, calling it one of “the most dangerous activities to carry out while driving.”
But it notes that distracted driving refers to all forms of inattentive driving, including talking on the phone, eating or drinking, personal grooming and tending to children in the backseat. During the campaign, officers will be targeting these and any other forms of distraction they observe, the statement says.
“Drivers need to remember that the real danger to the motoring public lies in the distraction, not the device,” said Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander of the OPP Highway Safety Division. “In 2012, 83 people were killed in motor vehicle collisions within OPP jurisdiction in which distracted driving was a factor … and that surpassed our impaired driving fatalities in 2012.”
OPP officers laid close to 16,000 distracted driving charges across the province last year. But the problem is far from being under control; they continue to see careless drivers texting and talking on their phones and engaging in other forms of distraction every day.
The OPP is asking Ontarians to turn to Facebook to share their stories about the dangerous driver behaviour or near-misses they have observed from motorists driving distracted. By doing so, you can help drivers think about their own driving habits and how they are contributing to dangerous behaviour.
Go to: https://www.facebook.com/ontarioprovincialpolice to share your stories.
- Raffi Anderian illustration for Life Section story.