What is Being Done to Reduce Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving continues to be a major concern for Ontario car accident lawyers. As impaired driving rates have fallen, distracted driving has contributed to an increasing percentage of fatal accidents and accidents causing traumatic injuries. According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), distracted driving fatalities are actually more common in some parts of Canada than fatalities linked to alcohol- or drug-impaired driving.

The CBC reports that there have been 44 distracted driving deaths in Ontario this year (compared with 34 deaths from impaired driving) and that the OPP has written 13,500 distracted driving tickets in the past 12 months. Additionally, it reports that distracted driving fatalities have doubled since 2000, which strengthens the correlation between smartphones and behind-the-wheel distraction.

However, distracted driving comes in many forms. In addition to texting-and-driving, it includes eating behind the wheel, applying make-up, tuning the radio, and adjusting the navigation system. What they all have in common is that they are dangerous, and that most Canadians believe they are innocent of them.

“There seems to be a disconnect. Drivers don’t connect the behaviours they’re engaging in and the risks that are associated with those distractions behind the wheel,” TIRF communications director Karen Bowman told the CBC.

“Everybody knows it’s not a good idea to drive while you’re using your smartphone, and yet it seems like there’s more and more of it,” added OPP Const. Ed Jouwstra.

In a recent survey funded by Desjardins Insurance, 93 per cent of respondents insisted they “rarely or never” drive while distracted, yet 84 per cent also claimed to “often or always” see others doing so. Both cannot be true – the unfortunate reality is that many Canadians drive while distracted, and law enforcement, safety advocates, and Ontario car accident lawyers are struggling to find solutions.

How Are Stakeholders Confronting Distracted Driving?

Every group concerned with safety on Ontario roads has a plan to reduce distracted driving. For law enforcement agencies and road safety advocates, the strategy revolves around awareness. In 2016, the OPP launched a Labour Day Distracted Driving Campaign to draw attention to the issue. The initiative used language similar to impaired driving campaigns.

“Recognize that they are endangering your life,” said then OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, urging passengers not to ride with distracted drivers. “Speak up and insist that they focus on the road and on safe driving. By not doing so you are contributing to the problem.

Also in 2016, the Province of Ontario launched its #PutDownthePhone campaign, complete with a jarring commercial showing the split-second consequences of distraction behind the wheel. More recently, in January 2019, the province introduced tough new distracted driving laws featuring a $615 fine, three-day license suspension, and three demerit points for a first conviction.

The auto insurance industry has emerged as a major proponent in the fight against distracted driving. The Co-operators Group, for instance, has partnered with TIRF on a presentation tour to public schools in Ontario, while Wawanesa Insurance has sponsored a social media campaign to discourage distraction. Perhaps more importantly, most insurance providers have made distracted driving a ‘major conviction,’ which means it usually leads to a rate increase.

“Now that distracted driving is with many carriers a major conviction, I think we can translate that for brokers [so] that they quickly understand what that is going to mean for customers when they get their renewal,” RSA Canada senior vice-president of personal lines Donna Ince told Canadian Underwriter.

For Ontario car accident lawyers, the focus remains on helping victims of distracted driving access compensation for the damages they have incurred. Fatal motor vehicle accidents have decreased across the country for several decades, led by a drastic reduction in impaired driving accidents together with improved in-vehicle safety features. The overall decrease in fatal accidents makes the spike in distracted driving fatalities even more disheartening – without these deaths, Ontario’s roads would be significantly safer.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving distracted driving, contact Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our team of experienced Ontario car accident lawyers can help. Will Davidson LLP has represented seriously injured accident victims for decades, ensuring that they have access to the compensation and resources they need during their long, challenging recovery.

Will Davidson LLP offers services on a contingency basis to clients involved in motor vehicle accidents. This fee arrangement – sometimes called “no win, no fees” – means that our team will not ask for legal fees until your case has been successfully resolved, at which point we will accept a percentage of the final settlement as payment. Contingency fees allow us to provide access to justice for all Ontarians, even those facing significant financial challenges. For more information about our fees, our services, and what sets us apart from other personal injury lawyers, contact Will Davidson LLP today.  

Image credit: Senior Airman Stormy Archer and Airman 1st Class Lauren Ely

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