Ontario Provincial Police say distracted driving is expected to surpass impaired driving as a factor in fatal crashes on roads they patrol, for the seventh straight year.

The word comes as the OPP gets set to kick off its annual crackdown on distracted driving on Saturday. The force has already reported that about a quarter of 2015's fatal crashes were caused by distracted driving. That's 12 of 51 fatal collisions to date. Nine were men, two were women and victims ranged in age from 33 to 88 years old.

In five of those fatalities, police report it was the driver  — found to be driving inattentively — who died. Three of the incidents involved a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle.

“Distracted driving is a danger to all road users," said said chief superintendent Chuck Cox, commander of the OPP Highway Safety Division in a press release Wednesday.

"Fortunately, these same road users are in a position to help put a stop to it. We want to see everyone develop and maintain a complete intolerance for distracted driving and make it the socially unacceptable driving behaviour that it should be."

OPP suggests ways to help:

  • Be mindful that distracted driving  poses a significant  threat to the well-being of your family and friends.
  • Start conversations about distracted driving with your family, your friends, your colleagues and shed the negative light on it that it deserves.
  • If you are in a vehicle being driven by someone who is driving while distracted, always speak up. Be firm and say: “Enough! Too many people are dying because of distracted driving. It needs to stop and you need to stop”. Make this your new attitude every day.
  • If you see someone driving in a dangerous manner while driving distracted, call 911 to report them.
  • Be self-disciplined every time you get behind the wheel. Do not allow yourself to be distracted in any way while you are driving.
with files from The Canadian Press