Distracted Driving Kills – If You Have Loved Ones, sign this, to change current penalties.

Distracted Driving Kills – If You Have Loved Ones, sign this, to change current penalties.

July 16, 2022
Signatures: 44Next Goal: 50
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Why this petition matters

Started by MIKE KELLY

NOTE: This petition is looking for signatories and support to email your concerns to the Premier of Ontario and Minister of Transportation (as outlined further below), NOT to gather financial contributions - so bypass the contribution section if it appears from Change.org near the end.

Distracted driving has become a blight on our roads, taking lives and causing families’ never-ending sorrow and pain. The problem has become commonplace and law enforcement cannot manage it. Distracted driving is a social problem, especially with covid causing people to feel more alienated, using their phones while driving to satisfy an emptiness in their lives caused by an absence of social contact. Although there are other types of distracted driving - eating, grooming - smartphone use is the main culprit. Driving a vehicle is the most cognitive-intensive activity that most humans do, factoring in vehicular speed and proximity to other cars.  A car travels roughly 88 feet per second while travelling 100 kms/hr, and looking down at a smartphone, takes the average person five seconds which means you would travel the length of a football field before you realize what has happened!

Despite the distracted driving horror stories we hear, the problem has worsened with distracted driving claiming four hundred lives each year in Ontario. In addition, nearly one person is injured in a distracted driving collision every half hour (Source: https://www.g1.ca/driving-statistics/ 

With all the public education efforts and law enforcement directed at distracted driving since 2008 it begs the question why has the problem gotten so bad  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36r0sMysnKk&t=4s It's straightforward from a psychological perspective - humans are inherently selfish. We try to do things that make us feel good. Seeing how many views your recent Instagram cat video received cheers one up. When humans try to connect on their phones while driving, it's a recipe for disaster, no matter how good a driver you think you are. If you take your eyes off the road while driving for just a second, you could be one second away from killing someone (& also ruining your own life in the process). Unfortunately, no number of videos (examples further below) is likely to change that, as humans tend to fault others (as poor drivers) while cutting themselves slack ("I'm a great driver and can multi-task"). Science has shown the latter statement to be totally incorrect, and no matter how good a driver you think you are, taking your eyes off the road for even a second can result in an accident. One would think deterrence laws set up in 2008 in Canada would have sufficed. However, it's worse. If you are driving today, there is a good chance you'll see someone driving distracted while using their phone. Look for the driver whose head is looking down for more than a second – the phone is in their lap. 

What will lead people to alter such habits? It is either receiving credible, persuasive information or punitive deterrents. To end distracted driving, the latter is the most plausible outcome. Driving is a privilege that can be taken away by punitive deterrents, which will force people to put their phones away while driving. Currently, it takes a third offence in Ontario to (possibly) receive the most punitive penalty of up to $3,000; 6 demerit points and loss of your license for 30 days. Remember as a child being told that you had until the "count of three" or else? You learned to wait until the count of three. This ineffective method of changing behaviour does not work on children, teens or adults!

So how do we more effectively deal with this blight on our roads? What I'm proposing is quite simple (and I have been trying to get various governments to do for seven years): the first penalty will be $5,000; 6 demerit points; 30-day licence suspension; and loss of vehicle for the 30 days. Some might think this is somewhat draconian, dictating when you are allowed to use your phone. However, the ones who will complain about such a harsh penalty are the ones who feel they will get caught the first time! It's one thing to have a social addiction that negatively affects the individual. Still, letting your addiction put other drivers at risk is entirely different. Just imagine, with a bit of public awareness, how quickly people will reconsider picking up their phone to look at their cat videos after hearing people have been charged with such a stiff penalty for their first offence!

Will Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney) have the courage to implement such a potentially unpopular deterrent? It isn't very likely. They need to be reminded who they serve - the public! There is the financial aspect, as in Ontario, millions in fines are collected from distracted driving incidents each year. Additionally, they will tell you that Ontario has the safest roads in North America, with the strictest distracted driving laws in Canada (yet distracted driving is out of control). 

The costs associated with distracted driving are in the many millions with lost productivity and related infrastructure costs (think how long a highway can be shut down from an accident and all the safety personnel that need to be summoned). And what are the "human" costs related to a distracted driving accident/ fatality – priceless! So the millions collected in fines, actually pale in comparison. We have a graduated "three strike" penalty concept in Ontario. Effectively this childish deterrent tells people that in the unlikely event they don't kill someone first as they play with their phone and get caught, they'll get two more chances before receiving the most decisive penalty (strike three). Psychology tells us that such deterrents encourage individuals to engage in negative behaviour, as it's not likely you'll get caught a third time. 

ACTION: Please sign this petition AND email the Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney (email: caroline.mulroneyco@pc.ola.org) & also SPDB@ontario.ca along with Premier Doug Ford (email:  doug.fordco@pc.ola.org AND premier@premier.gov.on.ca) to tell them to have the driving laws changed and made immediately more punitive! I have been requesting the government get serious about dealing with distracted driving for over seven years, with the same reply coming back each time "we are continuing to evaluate the problem of distracted driving and providing education to the public." How much longer and much more is required has never been explained to me. You would be hard pressed to find a single licensed driver unaware that distracted driving is against the law. They might even try to tell you that incidents are down slightly during 2020 – don’t be fooled by this rhetoric, as because of Covid restrictions,  there was also significantly less traffic on our roads as people were not going into work or travelling for pleasure etc. So, minister Mulroney, please, enough with the political spin and get serious with those who continue to break the law via distracted driving. 

Related Video Links:

The Risks of Distracted Driving | Brad Gorski | TEDxStanleyPark

Eight Seconds: One Fatal Distraction

End Distracted Driving – The Science

Here are the current penalties for distracted driving in Ontario:

First Distracted Driving Conviction (Ontario)

Fine up to $1000 (minimum fine of $615 if settled out of court)
Three demerit points
Three day driver’s license suspension
Second Distracted Driving Conviction Within 5 Years

Fine up to $2000
Six demerit points
Seven day driver’s license suspension
Third and Subsequent Distracted Driving Conviction Within 5 Years

Fine up to $3000
Six demerit points
30 day driver’s license suspension

Here are some vital and very sobering statistics related to distracted driving:

From the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC):

Distracted Driving Statistics in Canada
-       Approximately 3 out of 4  drivers admit to driving distracted. This simply means that there is a good chance,  the driver in front of you, behind you and beside you has probably driven while being distracted. Scary.

-       Distracted drivers themselves, are 23 times more likely to crash while texting and driving.

-       As per the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO),  “drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a collision than drivers who focus on the road. And when drivers take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds, their crash risk doubles.”

The Ontario Provincial Police have said “distracted driving is the number one killer on our roads, causing more deaths than impaired driving and speeding.”

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Signatures: 44Next Goal: 50
Support now