Corp Comm Connects

York Regional Police urges drivers to take no cellphone pledge
June 25, 2015
By Lisa Queen

On his way to a media conference about the dangers of distracted driving, York regional chairperson Wayne Emmerson saw four people behind the wheel talking on their hand-held cellphones, a woman putting on makeup, a man tying his tie and numerous drivers juggling their breakfasts.

“Lives are put in danger with distracted driving,” he said at Monday morning’s launch of the Pledge to Ignore campaign, a new joint initiative between the region and York Regional Police challenging drivers and pedestrians walking near roads to stay off their cellphones.

“Distracted driving makes up 15 per cent of at-fault collisions on York Region roads and will surpass impaired driving incidents across Ontario for the seventh straight year.  So, before heading out, put your phone away and focus on where you are going. It could save a life.”

The province, this month, passed the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, which increases penalties for distracted driving, police Chief Eric Jolliffe said.

“York Regional Police support any measures that improve safety on our roadways. We’re committed to ensuring safety for all road users in York Region,” he said.

“Hundreds of people die and thousands of injuries happen each year, simply because we are not paying attention to the road. Whatever it is, it can wait. The chances of causing a collision that could ruin lives are just too great.”

Fines for distracted driving now range from $300 to $1,000 and will cost you three demerit points upon conviction.

There are also escalating sanctions for new drivers, including a 30-day suspension on first conviction, a 90-day suspension on second conviction and cancellation of a driver’s licence and having to repeat the graduated licencing program on third conviction, Jolliffe said.

Talking on a cellphone, both hand-held and hands-free, makes you four times more likely to crash, while driving distracted is a contributing factor in 80 per cent of collisions, according to police.

Texting while driving makes a driver just as impaired as someone with a blood alcohol content of .125, police said. The legal limit is .08.

“We encourage all drivers to put down their phones. No one can give their full attention to the road when they’re on their device or engaging in other distracted activities,” Jolliffe said.

“We all have a stake in this problem and we’re all part of its solution.”