Officers pay special attention to distracted drivers E ASTERN O NTARIO Area Ontario Provincial Police officers are once again paying special attention to distracted drivers during another round of the“ PhoneinOneHand,TicketintheOther” campaign. Between now and September 18, the O.P.P. is conducting a special drive to curb the use of cell phones by drivers. Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Chris Lewis says it’s time for drivers to do what the O.P.P. is talking about. ”The O.P.P. does their best to provide insight and heighten awareness on the dangers of distracted driving but so what? The vast majority of drivers know it’s dangerous. They hear our safety messages but nothing changes because they have not taken action. Hundreds of people have close calls every day. They are consciously aware that they are making a poor decision when they text or use their cell phone while driving,” said Lewis. Distracted driving has been identified as a causal factor in almost 5,000 collisions on O.P.P.-patrolled roads and highways so far this year. “Our goal is to give out as few tickets as possible”, says Deputy Commissioner Larry Beechey, Provincial Commander of Traffic Safety andOperational Support. “Our goal is to increase compliance with the existing legislation and one of the ways we do that is increasing the risk of being caught.” Holding a device capable of texting or phoning while driving can result in a fine of $155 under Section 78.1 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). Watching an entertainment device can result in a fine of $110 under Section 78 of the HTA. Other forms of distracted driving can result in a charge of Careless Driving with fines ranging from $400 to $2,000, a possible licence suspension of up to two years and/or a jail term of not more than six months. By this time last year, the O.P.P. had investigated 55 fatal collisions that occurred because the driver was inattentive. This year that total is down to 35. As of July 31, the O.P.P. had issued nearly 10,000 tickets for distraction. That’s more than double compared to 2010.

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