Checking your phone while behind the wheel is not worth a $280 fine, let alone the risk of crashing your vehicle.
That’s the message SGI is sending with the traffic safety spotlight for March.
Police across the province will be targeting all forms of distracted driving this month using surveillance from plainclothes officers on sidewalks and unmarked vehicles.
In a news release, SGI points out “if you’re on your phone, you’ll never see them coming.”
Despite ongoing education efforts and police enforcement, people still don’t seem to be getting this message on distracted driving. Between 400 and 600 drivers are fined every month across the province for driving while using their cellphones or being distracted in other ways.
Not only is it worth a $280 fine, distracted drivers also lose four Safe Driver Recognition (SDR) points, which can add to the cost of insurance. Drivers who get too many demerit points and wind up in the penalty zone under the SDR program have to pay an extra $50 per demerit.
Distracted drivers who are caught a second time within one year also lose their vehicles for one week and have to foot the bill for towing and storage.
According to SGI, people who text and drive are 23 times more likely to get into a crash.
While the financial cost is unpleasant, distracted driving can also be a deadly mistake.
In 2016, distracted driving was found to be a factor in 42 fatal crashes. In that year 1,200 people were also injured in because drivers were distracted.
SGI is trying to drive the message that phones can wait and it’s just not worth it to check phones because distracted drivers can be ticketed even if they are stopped at a red light.
Experienced drivers are only allowed to use cellphones with a voice activation or one-touch feature if they are mounted to visors or dashboards but this does not apply to novice or learner drivers who are banned from both.
The #JustDrive campaign encourages people to call out friends and family members who use their phones and to engage “do not disturb while driving” features on smartphones or to put phones on silent out of sight and out of reach while behind the wheel.