Distracted driving fine upped to $280

Now the #1 killer on Ontario roads

By Josh Howald

If it doesn't kill you, it still might cost you.

The fine for distracted driving is about to be upped to $280, which one must admit, is a better penalty than death.

Distracted driving is now the leading cause of death on Ontario roads. For the first time ever, statistics indicate that distracted driving kills more people than both impaired driving and speeding. In 2013, 78 people died in distracted driving related collisions. Impaired driving was the cause of 57 driving deaths, while 44 deaths were attributed to speeding.

The OPP issued those stats as a reminder to the public about a distracted driving enforcement blitz that began on Sunday. The crackdown continues until March 14. On March 18, the fine for distracted driving will jump from $155 to $280.

"When you consider the overall impact of these 78 fatalities last year, and the other 325 distracted driving victims....since 2010, the number of people these irresponsible drivers have had...a devastating impact on is in the thousands," said Brad Blair, OPP Deputy Commissioner and and Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

"Everyone....knows the emotional impact of (life lost to senseless driving. It) trickles down to so many people....(who through experience) know how badly this behaviour needs to stop," he added.

Police understand the only way to prevent distracted driving related collisions is to hammer home to people just how serious the problem is. Police are trying to convince people to make a commitment to helping elminate distracted driving completely. Cops know it won't happen overnight, but are optimistic it can be done.

That is why they want people to support this campaign against distracted driving by going to the OPP's Facebook and Twitter pages and letting them know how you plan to help eliminate distracted driving on Ontario roads. The OPP will highlight some of the entries in a campaign wrap-up news release upon its completion.

The new fine of $280 includes an increased penalty of $225, plus a $50 victim surcharge and a $5 court cost. The South-Bruce OPP is on board with the distracted driving campaign, and vowed to be vigilant.

"The South-Bruce OPP will be utilizing all available officers and exercising zero tolerance with distracted drivers," said Inspector Scott Smith, Detachment Commander of the South-Bruce OPP.

"Cheat death - pay attention and drive with two hands on the wheel," he said.