OPP's March Break blitz aims to rid roads of distracted drivers

The Ontario Provincial Police are conducting a blitz this week to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

$400 fines, 3 demerit points if drivers caught

Provincial Police are urging drivers to 'think and drive' this March Break by staying focused on the road, not their devices. (CBC)

The Ontario Provincial Police are conducting a blitz this week to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

In 2017, the OPP investigated 83 motor vehicle deaths in which driver inattention was an underlying factor. In comparison, there were 75 road deaths related to speed, 49 road deaths related to lack of seat belt use, and 46 road deaths related to alcohol and drugs.

Sergeant Carlo Berardi, media service coordinator with the OPP's North East Region, says until drivers get the message, the police will continue to conduct blitzes like this.

"We are seeing that distracted driving keeps increasing every year and that fatalities keep increasing every year," Berardi said.

"So this is very important that we get the message out to the public that distracted driving is an issue. And it's a bad habit that we're trying to get the public to break."

Distractions usually involve mobile phones, Berardi said, but he's also seen people eating, drinking, and even putting on makeup while behind the wheel.

"People should be focused on driving while they're driving," he said. "Because of the distractions, that's the last thing they're paying attention to."

The fine for being caught driving while distracted is $400, Berardi said. That's on top of earning three demerit points.

"But it's not just the fine," Berardi added. "It's the consequences of driving distracted that can cause so much pain when you get into a crash or when you kill someone."