Stats Show Distracted Driving is a Serious Problem in Brampton and Beyond

There are numerous examples of road incidents in Brampton where drivers are just doing things that defy logic and acceptable behaviour. The latest "daring" individual was this guy, driving backwards on a busy road in broad daylight in Brampton. At least he wasn't doing something even crazier, such as ghost riding the whip.

I would categorize this particular case as people getting distracted because of an external factor outside their own control (such as the person who was filming this crazy driver with their phone camera), but people more often than not provide distractions for themselves. Life is complicated enough for most of us and accidents can happen. According to a 2012 poll conducted by Leger Marketing, these are some of the most common causes of distracted driving:

In 2016, the Ontario Provincial Police reported that it was the fourth consecutive year that distracted driving caused more deaths in Ontario than speeding, people not wearing their seatbelts, or even drunk driving. There were 65 fatal crashes on OPP patrolled roads where distracted driving was either the primary cause or a contributing factor.

"Road deaths linked to distracted drivers will not let up unless every road user says enough is enough and shows a complete intolerance for what continues to be the most life-threatening driver behaviour on our roads," OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes said in a news release.

The issue of distracted driving has risen to even a level of national prominence, as federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has called for a set of national standards for penalizing distracted drivers. Provincial penalties for distracted driving range from $80 to $100 plus three demerit points in Quebec to a maximum fine of $1,200 and five demerit points in Prince Edward Island, according to the Canadian Automobile Association.

The Ontario government does offer some tips on avoiding distracted driving, such as:

  • Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Put it in the glove compartment (lock it, if you have to) or in a bag on the back seat.

  • Before you leave the house, record an outgoing message that tells callers you're driving and you'll get back to them when you're off the road. Some phone apps can block incoming calls and texts, or send automatic replies to people trying to call or text you.

  • Ask a passenger to take a call or respond to a text for you. If you must respond, or have to make a call or send a text, carefully pull over to a safe area.

  • Silence notifications that tempt you to check your phone.

These are just for distractions pertaining to your phone. There are more than enough legislations against the myriad of causes for distracted driving, since a good chunk of them can be attributed to emotion or general human behaviour and our own reactions to unanticipated events. Can you really find a way to legislate against road rage in the heat of the moment?

But these suggested tips seem like common sense, and if people are not using common sense, drivers in Brampton have only themselves to blame for causing distracted driving in the first place.

Maybe the trend towards self driving cars isn't such a bad idea after all, if it will prevent distracted driving from being such a problem in the future.

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