Windsor

Distracted driving charges up 35% in Windsor

Windsor police say the number of charges for distracted driving is up around 35 per cent in the first 11 months of 2014, compared to the same time last year.
The OPP said that 78 people died from distracted driving-related crashes on roads patrolled by the force in 2013. (CBC)

The number of distracted driving charges is on the rise in Windsor.

Windsor police say the number of charges for distracted driving is up around 35 per cent in the first 11 months of 2014, compared to the same time last year.

Police handed out 1,730 distracted driving charges as of mid-December this year. That's compared to 1,072 in 2013.

Police are also issuing a higher number of warnings to drivers.

There have been around 500 issued this year. That's compared to 333 a year prior.

"I think the increase is because the community recognizes it as a problem and so do we," said Windsor police spokesperson Const. Andrew Drouillard.

Police say they are seeing people sneaking in a text, a call or even checking their email while driving. 

"It becomes more serious because you don't have time to react to anything," said Const. Drouillard. "When you're looking down you don't even have time to brake," he said.

Not just texting 

"I've seen a lot of texting. I've seen people, they're driving, and they're on their phone and in their other hand they've got a cigarette," said driver Phil Farbota.

His wife Sonja said it's not just people using a cell phone while behind the wheel.

"Makeup, like not just lipstick. Mascara. You know, doing their hair and stuff like that. Like applying makeup should be done at home," she said.

While her husband admits to have texted while driving, he does not plan on doing it anymore.

"I've just seen to many videos of just some real tragedies that have happened with texting and driving, and it's just something that I will not do anymore," he said.

'Number one killer on roads'

Earlier this year, the Ontario Provincial Police called distracted driving the "number one killer on roads."

The OPP said that 78 people died from distracted driving-related crashes on roads patrolled by the force in 2013, compared to 57 deaths in impaired driving-related crashes and 44 people who died in speed-related crashes in that same year. 

"Looking at that smartphone or looking at that text message or answering that email or looking at a video or news update diverts your attention from the roadway and what’s important," said Const. Drouillard. "What’s important are all the things on the road."

The province of Ontario has introduced legislation that would more than double the minimum fine for distracted driving.

The proposed changes to the Highway Traffic Act will take fines for distracted driving from between $60 and $500 to between $300 and $1,000, and will cost the driver three demerit points upon conviction. 

Distracted driving will also be added to the list of violations that, for novice drivers, result in a 30-day license suspension. 

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