John Lappa/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network
Carmel McDonald, community safety officer with the Ontario Provincial Police, makes a point at the launch of the Sudbury Road Safety Committee’s distracted driving campaign at OPP headquarters in Sudbury on Wednesday.

Keeping hands at ten and two seems to be an outdated idea as people struggle to keep their focus on the road while behind the wheel.

According to the Greater Sudbury Police Service, officers issued 145 provincial offences in 2017 for use of handheld communication devices while driving. As of June 6, officers have issued 180 provincial offences.

“One person is injured every 30 minutes due to distracted driving in Ontario,” said Joe Rocca, the city’s traffic and asset management supervisor and chair of the Sudbury Road Safety Committee. “Statistics tell us that approximately 37 per cent of adults over 18 years old in Sudbury and surrounding areas reported talking on a cellphone while driving.”

Rocca, along with fellow representatives from the Sudbury Road Safety Committee, gathered Wednesday to launch a distracted driving campaign. The launch was held at the OPP station in Sudbury’s south end, complete with a wrecked car demonstrating the destruction that is possible when drivers are distracted.

Distracted driving occurs when a driver’s attention is temporarily diverted from the task of driving to an object, person or task not related to driving. This includes drinking, adjusting dials in the vehicle, eating, personal grooming, turning around, reaching over and communicating with people inside or outside the vehicle.

According to Rocca, of all the potential distractions, handheld devices present the highest level of risk.

As part of the campaign, people can expect to see increased messages warning of the dangers of distracted driving. In an effort to appeal to younger drivers, many of these messages will be shared on social media.

Carmel McDonald, a media relations and community safety officer with the OPP, said that “simply holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law and holds a fine of up to $1,000 and up to three demerit points.”

Raymond Beaudry, a public health nurse with Public Health Sudbury and Districts, said distraction increases the chance of a crash by 23 times, all while rates of distracted driving continue to increase.

“When paramedics are requested to attend motor vehicle collisions, we see first-hand the havoc distractions can create,” Shawn-Eric Poulin, a commander with the city’s paramedic service, said. “We welcome any measures that can assist in preventing these tragedies. People’s lives can be forever changed due to distracted driving, which is completely avoidable.”

Together, members of the Sudbury Road Safety Committee are calling on all citizens of Greater Sudbury and surrounding districts to be proactive in keeping the roads safe by keeping your attention on the road. This includes setting a good example by driving distraction-free, and reminding friends and family to do the same.

Source: The Sudbury Star