With the beginning of another school year, high school and university students will be on the road travelling to their destinations. The Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) would like to remind the motoring public that one in seven deaths on Ontario roads are caused by distracted driving and a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash. The risk of a crash doubles when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road for two seconds. Young drivers,15-to-20-years old, are especially vulnerable to death and injury on our roadways. Teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.
Research shows there are a variety of behaviors that contribute to teen-related crashes. Inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, drinking and driving, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving (cell phone use, loud music, other teen passengers, etc.), drowsy driving, nighttime driving, and other drug use aggravate this problem.
When it comes to distracted driving, young people are among the most likely to text and talk behind the wheel. Approximately 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes involve driver’s younger than 20.
Distracted driving is any activity that can take a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions can endanger driver, passenger and pedestrian safety. Distractions include texting, talking on a cell phone or smartphone, eating and drinking, talking with passengers, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching a video and adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player.
“Distracted driving by youth is a leading factor for collisions on our highways. Drivers don’t realize that when they take their eyes off the road for just five seconds driving 100 km/h their vehicle can travel the distance of a football field. The fine for distracted driving is $490 and three demerit points but the cost is far higher if you are involved in a collision as a result of being distracted”, Staff Sergeant Michael Maville, Detachment Commander, Sault Ste. Marie OPP Detachment.
Parents are encouraged to educate their teen about the dangers of distracted driving and monitor their actions behind the wheel. Parents should have conversations early and often about the dangers of distraction, teach by example and model safe behaviours when driving.
Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. Let us all do our part so everyone arrives at their destination safely.