New ad campaign makes distracted drivers think twice

The Ontario government has released a startling new ad showing the consequences of picking up your phone while driving. According to the Ministry of Transportation, someone is injured in a distracted-driving collision every 30 minutes.

One person is injured in a distracted-driving collision every 30 minutes, Ontario government says

In the Ontario government's new advertisement to stop distracted driving, a young man picks up his phone before being hit by an oncoming vehicle. (The Ontario government)

The Ontario government is giving distracted drivers a startling reality check, asking them to "put down the phone."

This week the province released its first video in a new advertising campaign aimed at stopping distracted driving. In it, a young man checks his cell phone before driving through an intersection.

  • Watch the :15 version of the ad here.
The driver is hit by another vehicle and suddenly transported to a hospital room, where he's confined to a wheelchair. In the longer spot, a nurse asks if he'd like the see the nice day outside through his window. 
The Ontario government's new advertisement to curb distracted driving shows the consequences of using your phone while on the road. (The Ontario government)

The ad is shocking and the ministry says that's the point. 

"We want to emphasize how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road  — even for a moment," said senior media officer Bob Nichols with the Ministry of Transportation in an email. 

According to the ministry, deaths caused by distracted driving collisions have more than doubled since 2000, making them the leading cause of death on the province's roads. Statistics from the Ontario Provincial Police show 69 people died last year in collisions where distracted driving played a role. 

Someone is injured in a distracted-driving collision every 30 minutes, according to the government's data, causing one out of every seven deaths on Ontario's roads.

"It is important to spread the message that using your phone while driving is not OK, and investing in powerful ads and a strong marketing campaign will help us do that," Nichols said.

The ad will be adapted to air on television, radio and social media, playing on television after 8 p.m., in movie theatres before films rated 14A and above, and before music playlists on Spotify, a music streaming app.

Nichols says they'll also be working to see the "campaign become integrated into beginner drivers education training."

The government hopes these platforms will help them target young drivers, aged 16 to 24. Their statistics show one-third of drivers involved in distracted driving collisions are 30 or younger.

CBC reporter Mike Crawley asked young people what they thought of the ad.

Young people respond to Ontario government's new ad

6 years ago
Duration 0:40
CBC reporter Mike Crawley asked young people what they thought of a new advertisement from the Ontario government showing the consequences of distracted driving.

Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca, says the ministry has had positive feedback to the campaign.

"It sends a profound message that when you're in a vehicle, just put the phone away, put the handheld device away and just focus on the task at hand," he said.

The Ministry says although most drivers feel sending a text while driving is dangerous, 49 per cent of drivers still feel obliged to answer a call or text while at the wheel.

To curb that habit, there are tips on the campaign's website advising drivers to turn off notifications before hitting the road or asking a passenger to take calls and answer messages for them.