Distracted driving message getting out in Durham Region

Photo by Trusha Patel

The annual Campus Cup soccer showdown between Durham and UOIT has kicked off the school year.

The number of tickets handed out for distracted driving by Durham Regional Police (DRPS) so far this year is less than in 2015.

Last year, 2,365 tickets were handed out to distracted drivers from January to October, but this year, 1,402 tickets have been handed out during the same time period.

“It’s mostly the fine of almost $1,000 that influenced the drivers to not drive distractedly. 1,402 (number of tickets) is still a high number, but better than last year,” said DRPS Sergeant Bill Calder. “The resources (driver’s handbook/tips to avoid distracted driving) also help drivers be more careful on the road.”

While the numbers are better, distracted driving is still a major concern, said Sgt. Calder.

“It’s a good thing, almost half of last year, but we still want the number to be zero,“ said Sgt. Calder.

Each time a person looks away from the road or loses focus for even a second, it puts people’s lives at risk, he said.

Distracted driving is when a person is driving a motor vehicle while also doing something else, typically something that involves an electronic device.

“There are many things that can be distractive. Mobiles, iPads, programming the GPS, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, texting is always a big one, even shaving, that has happened before,” said Sgt. Calder.

Sgt. Calder also says that new drivers and drivers up to the age of 30 are found driving distractedly the most.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three types of distractions in driving, visual, cognitive, and manual.

Visual distractions are things that take the drivers eyes off the road. Examples include making eye contact to the passenger while talking, reading a sign at the side, or looking at scenery.

Cognitive distractions are thoughts that divert the driver’s attention from the road to whatever they’re thinking about. Examples include daydreaming, and thinking about personal issues or professional and financial problems.

Manual distractions happen when drivers take their hands off the wheel to do something. Examples include texting, eating, and drinking.

“Distracted driving is a trend, it’ll keep happening,” said Calder. “The fine is not enough, there should be more (severe consequences).”

According to the Ontario law for driving, G licence drivers face fines from $490 to $1,000 plus three demerit points. G1 and G2 licence holders face a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction, 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction, and cancellation of licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction. If other people get injured from distracted driving, then the driver faces up to $2,000, six demerit points, and/or a jail term of six months, and a licence suspension of up to two years.

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Trusha Patel is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. She enjoys writing about campus, entertainment, and Op-Ed for The Chronicle. Trusha is an avid reader who loves hiking and travelling to new places. She hopes to cover entertainment, fashion, and lifestyle stories for a Canadian magazine.