This week, the Ontario government started a new ad campaign designed to shock and horrify drivers with a blunt perspective on the consequences of drivers becoming distracted by cell phones, food, reading materials and GPS and entertainment systems. According to government statistics, distracted driving deaths have increased 26 percent in the last 10 years and cause one out of every seven driving-related deaths, including 69 deaths in 2015.
The government has already released the first ad for TV and the Internet – a one minute piece titled “#PutDownThePhone.” The ad begins with a young male driver hearing his phone’s text notification chirp sounding off. He looks down to read it just as he passes another road. A vehicle slams into him from the driver’s side and the next instant viewers see him in a hospital room in a wheelchair with a ventilation tube sticking out of his neck and a vacant stare. The next frames state: “It happens fast” followed by “Put down the phone.” The rest of the ad shows the young man, “Andrew,” receiving treatment from a nurse, including having drool wiped from his chin. Even though the nurse speaks to him, he’s entirely unresponsive.
By The Numbers
In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes. (NHTSA)
Drivers in their 20s are 23 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes, but are 27 percent of the distracted drivers and 38 percent of the distracted drivers who were using cell phones in fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
The percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers. (NHTSA)
At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. (NOPUS)