Recently, police forces from across Ontario began a 6 week distracted driving blitz. They’ve been handing out tickets left right and centre to crack down on offences like texting while driving, operating a cell phone while driving etc.
With the increase popularity and availability of smart phones, distracted driving has become a “hot button” safety issue. I remember when drunk driving was the “hot button” safe driving issue. Not that drunk driving offences are out of the public’s eye. They are now just sharing a bit of that spot light with distracted driving offences.
I remember when cell phones were are big a bricks. It was a status symbol to have one of these large cell phones. It was even a bigger status symbol to be seen chatting on that cell phone, during day time hours (when the minutes cost lost of $$$), and driving a car. That image gave off an impression of wealth, power, elevated status and success. You looked like a real shooter chatting on the cell phone while driving.
Who can forget the large centre console car phones (Cantel). They had a proper speaker feature, or you could also pull them up to your ear. The buttons were small, and you had to look down away from the windshield to make a call, or pick up the phone. These car phones were death traps; but they were also a status symbol.
Technology and times have changed significantly. With that, so has the etiquette and safety protocols of driving with a cell phone or mobile device in your car.
To give you an example of the crackdown of distracted driving offences, in 2013, Waterloo Regional Police handed out around 2,400 tickets for distracted driving offences. That figure is more than DOUBLE the amount handed out in 2010.
Here are some more quick stats on distracted driving from the CAA Website:
80% of motor vehicle accidents had some form of driver inattention as a contributing factor
Drivers using their mobile devices are 3x more likely to be involved in a collision than drivers who are NOT using their mobile devices
Distracted Driving accounts for 4 million car accidents in North America each year. That’s a CRAZY stat!
1% of Canada’s GDP ($10 Billion) is LOST and SPENT on accident related devices/times (lost work, rehab costs, medical costs etc.)
Drivers who text are 23x more likely to be involved in a car crash
Drivers who talk on a cell phone are 4-5x more likely to be involved in a car crash
Drivers who dial on a handheld device are 3x more likely to be involved in a car crash
Tips from Goldfinger Personal Injury Law with respect to distracted driving:
1. All phone calls, text messages and emails can wait until you’re not driving. Nothing is that important such as to put your safety, and the public’s safety at risk. Wait.
2. There’s no harm in turning OFF your phone before you start driving, and turning it on again after the trip is done.
3. If a call, email or text is that ugent, you can pull over into a parking lot, or to another SAFE place and take the call while the car is in PARK and in a stationary position.
4. If your motor vehicle does not come with handsfree or a blue tooth connection, then invest $50 or so in to a good hands free speaker phone. This device is portable and can be used in different cars, and even in your home. Here is a good one that will fit in your car.
5. There are some great APS that will read your email out loud, or provide an automated response to all incoming messages that you’re presently driving, and not able to respond at the moment; but will do so when the car trip is done.
Here is a great release from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website about the laws dealing with distracted driving, along with the penalties and fines associated with the offense. The Toronto Injury Blog has also gone through the penalties and fines associated with distracted driving in a previous entry which you can find here.
I hope you get the point and take what we say to heart when it comes to distracted driving. There is no way of hiding this evidence from police or from lawyers. We will get access to your cell phone records. The records show what time a call was make/picked up, text messages, email logs etc. This data will be cross referenced against the time of the accident contained in the police records. If the evidence shows that you were driving while distracted and lied about it, then you will feel the full weight of the law which isn’t an easy weight to lift. This can have serious consequences on your insurance coverage going forward (or in the present depending on if you lied), your driver’s record, and even financial consequences.
I would like to end this blog post by commenting on the recent Addison Hall fatality at the Costco in South London. In case you didn’t know, Addision Hall, a pretty 6 year old little girl died when a car drove through the barriers and inside a Costco store. We still don’t quite know what happened other than the car drove inside the Costco. Addison was killed in the accident, and 5 others were seriously injury.
I’ve been to this Costco many times as a shopper. It’s not unlike any other Costco store you’d see.
This accident is nothing short of a tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Hall family during these difficult times. I know that the thoughts and prayer of the entire City of London, ON are with the Hall family as well.
I would also like to commend Costco for showing some serious corporate responsibility and agreeing to match all donations made to the Hall family for funeral costs. This was an amazing gesture and a lesson for corporate Canada in how to take charge and handle a tragic situation.
I would also like to thank all of the readers of the Toronto Injury Blog for all of their thought provoking and positive feedback. It’s always nice to hear from you along with your kind messages. We hope our blog keeps you up to speed with the state of personal injury law in Ontario. If you have any questions, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call toll free at 1-877-730-1777.