The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is gearing up for its Distracted Driving Campaign next week (April 15-22, 2013) and they are looking to the public to help make it a historic success.

To help kick off the campaign, the OPP is asking drivers across Ontario to take a hard line on distracted driving once and for all by making Monday, April 15, 2013 the first day of a life-long commitment to keep all hand-held devices out of reach and out of use while behind the wheel.  Those who use hand-held phones while driving also put the lives of their passengers at risk and the OPP is asking passengers to take matters into their own hands by telling those who drive them while distracted to “put down the phone and leave it alone”.

The OPP is issuing an important reminder that, while texting is among the most dangerous activities to carry out while driving, distracted driving refers to all forms of distracted or inattentive driving, such as talking on the phone, eating and drinking, personal grooming and tending to children in the backseat. During the campaign, officers will be targeting these and any other forms of distraction they observe as impairing a motorist’s driving ability.

“Drivers need to remember that the real danger to the motoring public lies in the distraction, not the device,” said Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander of the OPP Highway Safety Division.  “In 2012, 83 people were killed in motor vehicle collisions within OPP jurisdiction in which distracted driving was a causal factor and that surpassed our impaired driving fatalities in 2012,” added Bell.

According to the OPP, officers laid close to 16,000 distracted driving charges across the province last year (2012). They continue to see careless drivers texting and talking on their phones and engaging in other forms of distraction every day.

“While the OPP is firmly committed to enforcing distracted driving laws during the campaign and throughout the year, drivers themselves can end these needless deaths by recognizing how they contribute to risks on our roads. Motorists need to realize that they may need to change their own driving behaviour to improve road safety for everyone,”  said Deputy Commissioner Larry Beechey, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

The OPP is asking Ontarians to share their stories on Facebook about the dangerous driver behaviour or near-misses they have observed from motorists driving distracted.  By doing so, you can help drivers think about their own driving habits and how they are contributing to dangerous behaviour.

Go to: https://www.facebook.com/ontarioprovincialpolice

Distracted Driving is one of the Big 4 high risk driving behaviours which leads to serious or fatal motor vehicle collisions on our provincial roadways.  The OPP Provincial Traffic Safety Program incorporates high police visibility, measurable outcomes, professional traffic stops and public education in their ongoing efforts to save lives on Ontario roads, trails and waterways.