OPP Using Stealth To Catch Distracted Drivers

OPP Headquarters Sign (BlackburnNews.com photo)

Provincial police are about to launch another crackdown on distracted driving, and they are counting on distracted drivers not seeing them coming.

This Labour Day weekend, the OPP will start using ten unmarked cars that will be dedicated to catching drivers who are texting, talking on cell phones, or distracted in other ways.

Sargeant Dave Rektor says the initiative is the result of some troubling survey results.

“It comes on the heels of a survey of licenced Ontario students in which almost 50% of Grade 12 students admitted to texting and driving,” says Rektor. “The worst part of this survey showed that the mindset of these drivers is that they believe they can text and talk on the phone and do so safely. They think this is okay.”

He adds 35 people have died so far this year in distracted driving crashes on roads patrolled by the OPP. He says passengers in vehicles driven by distracted drivers shouldn’t be afraid to speak up for their safety and that of others on the roads.

Provincial police say the number of deaths in distracted driving crashes on OPP-patrolled roads has now surpassed the number in speed-related and impaired-related crashes.

Since Ontario’s distracted driving laws were introduced in 2009, the OPP has investigated 374 distracted driving deaths.

“Our officers remain deeply concerned with the number of drivers they see driving distracted, especially those who talk on cell phones or even worse – texting, which is one of the most dangerous activities to engage in while driving. Regardless of how safe a driver, passenger or pedestrian you may be, you should be equally concerned about the number of motorists who risk your life by not paying full attention to safely sharing the road with you,” says Chief Superintendent Chuck Cox, OPP Highway Safety Division commander.

Police say, with kids returning to school next week, drivers need to be especially attentive.

A release from the OPP urges “all motorists who engage in distraction to come to terms with the reality that there is no such thing as a safe distracted driver and that all distracted drivers pose a threat on our roads.”