Distracted driving has contributed to twice as many deaths on Ontario roads than impaired driving, Ontario provincial police (OPP) said Monday.
As of mid-August, the OPP investigated 38 deaths involving an inattentive driver, compared to 19 impaired driving-related deaths.
Police say that for the first time since distracted driving laws were introduced in the province in 2009, “driver inattention-related road deaths are poised to double the number of impaired-related deaths this year.”
Ontario stiffened penalties for distracted driving last fall, with a set fine of $490 that a judge could increase to $1,000, plus three demerit points on conviction.
In a statement, OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair said passengers also need to be vigilant when riding in a vehicle.
“Don’t be a passenger of a distracted driver. Recognize that they are endangering your life. Speak up and insist that they focus on the road and on safe driving,” Blair said.
Police say they have investigated more than 600 inattentive driver deaths in the province.
The OPP will be launching its distracted driving campaign over the Labour Day weekend.
In March, the OPP reported that distracted driving was the cause of more deaths on provincial highways than any other factor for the third consecutive year, contributing to 69 deaths in 2015.
Impaired driving is still a concern for police. Earlier this month, the OPP laid 41 impaired charges over a 24-hour period at RIDE checks. In May, Toronto police revealed that impaired charges were up 150 per cent over the previous year, with an increase in arrests for being under the influence of marijuana.