Friday July 11, 2014

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday July 11, 2014

Ontario Government vows to reintroduce crackdown on distracted driving

Premier Kathleen Wynne says she’s concerned that Ontario teens are forming bad habits when it comes to texting while driving, after a new survey suggested an alarming number of students are typing while behind the wheel.

“It’s very worrisome to me because when young people start to have a habit of driving and texting, that’s harder to break,” she said.

Her re-elected Liberal government will bring back legislation that would toughen penalties and add demerit points for distracted driving, Wynne said.

“These machines are so ubiquitous in their lives that they just have them with them all the time, and so we need to break that cycle,” she said.

The survey conducted for the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health found that more than one-third of licensed Ontario students in Grades 10 to 12 — an estimated 108,000 teens — reported having texted while behind the wheel at least once in the past year.

Among Grade 12 students alone, 46 per cent of those who drive say they also texted at least once while operating a vehicle, according to the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey.

Yet the student surveys have found that the percentage of students who reported drinking and driving has declined dramatically over the past 20 years, it said.

There are more deaths as a result of texting while driving than drunk driving, Wynne said.

“It’s a real problem and that’s why we’ll be reintroducing the legislation.”

The previous bill, which would impose three demerit points in addition to increasing the maximum fine for distracted driving to $1,000, died when the June 12 election was called. (Source: Toronto Star)

Editorial Cartoon, Ontario, Distracted driver, distracted driving, texting while driving, driving, road safety