Few people would knowingly get behind the wheel of a vehicle after having a drink. However, distracted driving is something that is often overlooked, but still incredibly dangerous.
Are people driving distracted out of malice? Indifference? Well, most are doing it because they don’t realize what they’re doing actually constitutes distracted driving.
We all know that texting behind the wheel is wrong, but eating, drinking, or reading a map also falls under this category. While you won’t get a ticket for eating that sandwich, if an accident occurred there is a chance that careless driving could be tacked on. Even programming a GPS while driving, something that over half of all Canadians have admitted to doing, is distracting you from the road.
Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?
Close your eyes. Okay you don’t have to do that, but just imagine something for a moment. You’re driving down the highway, and it’s a little busier than usual, so you’re going 90 km/h. Do you think you could navigate the length of a football field with a blindfold on? That’s how far a vehicle travels in 5 seconds, the average time it takes to send a text.
It’s easy to think that there is little harm in just a few seconds, but even when travelling at low speeds, things happen quickly. In Canada, mobile phone use while driving accounts for 1.6 million crashes a year. Distracted driving has even surpassed impaired driving fatalities in some parts of the country.
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What Are The Consequences Of Distracted Driving?
Exact laws and penalties vary by country, state, and province, but you can be sure that it is illegal everywhere.
In Ontario, a first offence will cost you anywhere between $615 to $1,000, 3 demerit points, and a 3-day licence suspension. Get caught a second time and that maximum goes up to $2,000 with 6 demerits points and a week suspension. If you still haven’t learned your lesson it can mean up to $3,000, another 6 demerits points, and a month off the road to think about it.
Depending on your jurisdiction, the penalties might even be more severe for truck drivers, as they are driving something far more dangerous.
However, money and time off the road are one thing, but the real consequences come when something terrible happens. Could you live with yourself knowing you caused an accident, or even a fatality, because you couldn’t wait 20 minutes to send that text?
Avoiding Distracted Driving
The good news is that distracted driving is so incredibly easy to avoid. Focus on the road, and that’s it!
CAA has a campaign called “Do It All, Before You Drive” that sums things up perfectly. Get all your distractions out of the way before you leave your driveway, the lot, or the gas station. This includes:
- Setting your GPS
- Putting on your music playlist or podcast
- Stow loose items
- Avoid eating or drinking
- Do all your grooming before you leave
- Send all texts before you leave
- Make all calls before you leave
If you really can’t control yourself, put your phone in place you can’t easily reach it! Let’s all do our part to make the roads safer.