Unless you live off the grid and haven’t seen the billboards, ad campaigns, and checkpoints set up by police, you’ve probably heard and understand that impaired driving is extremely dangerous and against the law. Even one drink is enough to slow down your reflexes, affect your vision, and reduce your ability to drive safely. But even though most people have got the message about drunk driving, the general population doesn’t have the same perception about distracted driving.
Ontario police are seeing an increase in fatal crashes involving distracted driving, and distracted driving has surged into the top four causes of fatal crashes in Ontario along with impaired driving, not wearing a seat belt, and speeding. Part of the reason why Ontario police feel as though distracted driving cases are growing is because people don’t feel as though they’ll get caught. They want to multitask on their phones while driving, and despite the documented risks, don’t feel as though a crash could happen to them.
Impaired driving, on the other hand, has decreased in recent years. That’s thanks to both Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) increasing awareness and law enforcement stepping up checkpoints. But to give credit where credit is due, you have to look to the strict impaired driving penalties in Canadian provinces.
In Ontario, when a first offender is charged with impaired driving, they will lose their driver’s license, may have their vehicle impounded, pay fines, and will be required to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle they drive. Both MADD and law enforcement support ignition interlocks to prevent offenders from driving drunk again, and their effectiveness is starting to show with a decrease in offenders driving drunk again.
It took decades to the point where impaired driving rates are declining in Canada, and although the focus on stopping drunk drivers should continue to push forward, that same intense focus needs to be put on distracted driving. Maybe if that happens, Ontario will begin to see a decrease in traffic fatalities overall.