OPP lays 64 charges in northwestern Ontario during annual distracted driving campaign

The Ontario Provincial Police officers in Thunder Bay, Ont. have once again completed their annual Distracted Driving Campaign that runs from March 12 to 18.

OPP says people are still not understanding the dangers behind distracted driving

OPP in northwestern Ontario laid 64 charges during this year's annual distracted driving campaign. (David Horemans/CBC)

Ontario Provincial Police officers in Thunder Bay, Ont. have once again completed their annual Distracted Driving Campaign that runs from March 12 to 18.

OPP's community services coordinator for northwestern Ontario, Sergeant Shelley Garr, said this year they laid a total of 2589 charges in Ontario against motorists who were not completely focused on driving.

"Here in the northwest region, we laid 64 charges relating to individuals who were not completely focused on driving," Sergeant Garr said, "63 of our 64 charges were for using a hand-held device [and] the other charge was for careless driving."

She said last year, OPP laid 22 distracted driving charges and two careless driving charges in the northwestern Ontario region.

"The bottom line is that people are still not getting the message that they need to put down their hand-held devices," Garr said.

While there might be various factors involved in the increase of distracted drivers during this year's campaign, she said overall, it seems as people are not understanding the dangers behind driving while distracted.

"I drive around Thunder Bay ... and I see people on their phones," Garr continued, "we're still waiting recent Canadian statistics but I can tell you that driver distraction is a factor in about 8 out of 10, that's four million car crashes in North America each year."

She said the once-a-year distracted driving campaign is not just about laying charges, but rather about educating drivers in the dangers of distracted driving.

"Distracted driving refers to all forms of distracted or inattentive driving," Garr said, "drivers simply needs to remember that the true danger, the public safety, is in the distraction, not the device."