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Distracted driving caused more 2013 deaths than impaired driving: OPP

Distracted driving crashed more deaths than impaired driving in 2013, Ontario Provincial Police say.

The sobering numbers were released on Monday.

The OPP say that in 2013, the number of crashes involving distracted driving was higher than both impaired and speed-related fatalities.

Seventy-eight people were killed in distracted driving collisions compared to 57 impaired deaths and 44 speed-related ones.

“When you consider the overall impact of these 78 fatalities last year and the 325 other distracted driving victims who have died since 2010, the number of people these irresponsible drivers have had a profound and devastating impact on is in the thousands,” OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair said in a statement.

“Everyone, from the victims’ families and friends to the police officers who attend these horrific collision scenes and have to notify next-of-kin … know how badly this behaviour needs to stop,” he added.

Distracted driving involves talking or texting on a hand-held device while behind the wheel. It’s also illegal for drivers to look at display screens, such as laptops, MP3 players, or DVD players, that are unrelated to driving.

The OPP is launching their next Distracted Driving Campaign on Saturday, reminding drivers of the dangers — and of the increased penalty.

Distracted driving fines are rocketing up to $280 on March 18.

The base fine for distracted driving will be going up from $125 to $225, but the total amount will be $280 due to the $50 victim fine surcharge and $5 court cost.