A recent investigation by CAA South Central Ontario has revealed that 66% of drivers in Ontario have observed either a near-miss or a traffic infraction resulting from distracted driving. This statistic underscores the persistent worries among drivers about the safety implications of not paying full attention on the road. Despite ongoing concerns, there has been no significant change in the level of apprehension regarding distracted driving since last year, with 91% of drivers reporting they are either somewhat or very concerned.

According to Michael Stewart, a community relations consultant with CAA South Central Ontario, distracted driving remains a predominant cause of accidents on both highways and urban roads. Efforts to increase public awareness about the dangers of using smartphones and other in-car technologies while driving are ongoing.

The province of Ontario has prohibited the use of hand-held devices while driving since October 2009, yet the practice remains prevalent. A survey highlighted that 63% of drivers have seen another driver miss a traffic light because they were distracted. Stewart emphasized the critical nature of maintaining focus while driving, noting that even a momentary lapse can lead to severe accidents.

The survey also discovered that 42% of drivers in Ontario admitted to being distracted behind the wheel in the past, with 2% acknowledging they had faced charges for such behavior. Among the distractions, using a mobile device, watching television, making video calls, personal grooming, and programming a GPS were cited as the most concerning.

Stewart advocates for preparedness before driving, suggesting that drivers should set up their GPS and complete any texting prior to setting off. The risks associated with using technology while driving are significant, not only leading to potential legal consequences but also posing a severe risk to all road users.

Furthermore, there is a strong public support for stricter penalties to deter distracted driving. While 60% of drivers believe in tougher fines and penalties, only 32% are fully aware of the existing consequences, which can include a fine between $615 and $1,000, three demerit points, and a three-day license suspension for a first offense. Stewart reaffirmed CAA’s commitment to promoting road safety through educational initiatives and feedback from community members, aiming to ensure safer driving environments across the region.


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