A woman holds a Tim Hortons tea and a cellphone behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Distracted driving (Postmedia Network files)

The number of road deaths from distracted driving in Ontario this year is set to double that of drunk driving, according to the OPP.

As of mid-August, the Ontario Provincial Police investigated 40 road deaths in which a distracted driver was involved, and 21 where an impaired driver was a factor, Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said Monday.

“Everybody thinks it’ll happen to somebody else,” he said. “Everybody feels they are capable of driving with half of their attention (on) something else.

“We seem to get lulled into the (belief) that we are safe and cocooned in our vehicle and nothing can happen … We’re not realizing that there are risks and dangers that we need to be cognizant of all the time.”

The OPP noted that “for the first time since Ontario distracted driving laws were introduced in 2009, the OPP is reporting that driver inattention-related road deaths are poised to double the number of impaired-related deaths this year.”

Ontario recently jacked the fine for distracted driving to between $490 and $1,000. Those convicted also face a hit of three demerit points.

According to the provincial government, distracted driving includes “using your phone to talk, text, check maps or choose a playlist while you’re behind the wheel.”

Eating, reading and typing a destination into a GPS device also constitute being distracted while driving.

Source: Toronto Sun