Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign launched in Brampton

The Brampton Road Safety Committee launched its 2nd annual Distracted Driving Campaign to make Brampton’s roads and rail crossings safer. This campaign, running from April 15 – May 26, was officially launched at a media conference at 10 am, Tuesday, April 16 at the Brampton’s Fire/Life Safety Education Centre.

The campaign utilizes enforcement and education strategies to build awareness about the dangers of driving while distracted, and ultimately to change driving behaviors.

One of the leading causes of injury and death in Brampton is traffic collisions. Each year, more than 2,500 Brampton residents attend hospital emergency wards as a result of collisions.

“In 2012, there were 12 traffic-related fatalities on Brampton roads”, reports Larry Zacher, Executive Director of Brampton Safe City Association. “To put this in perspective, if terrorists attacked our city and killed a dozen people, there would be a huge outcry and response. Sadly, with traffic fatalities we seem to shrug it off. This has to change.”

It has been estimated in a recent North American study that 80% or collisions and 65% of near crashes have some form of driver inattention as contributing factors. The Ontario Provincial Police report distracted driving as one of the four leading causes of death on Ontario roads. The others are impaired driving, speeding and failure to wear seatbelts.

Brampton’s Distracted Driving Campaign is a collaborative approach using enforcement, education and citizen engagement.

The Peel Regional Police and the Ontario Provincial Police (Port Credit detachment) will step up enforcement of Ontario’s distracted driving laws during the campaign period. Drivers caught using cell phones or other handheld devices while driving face fines of $155.

During the campaign, Brampton Road Safety Committee member agencies will provide education to young drivers in school workshops and poster campaigns to teach them about the potential consequences of texting, talking and other distractions when operating a vehicle.

Recent research shows that the risk of injury and property damage increases fourfold for drivers who use their cell phones while on the road. Drivers who text while their vehicles are moving are 23 times more likely to end up in a crash. At highway speeds of 90 km per hour or more, a vehicle will travel more than 30 meters in as little as 2 seconds – the time it takes to briefly glance at a cell phone screen.

Employers share in the responsibility of keeping their employees safe while they are driving on the job. Time loss, loss of life, property damage, insurance premium increases and enforcement penalties resulting from distracted driving can seriously impact company

“We are asking citizens to do something about distracted driving”, says Brampton Road Safety Committee Chair Manan Gupta. “An easy first step is to take a look at their own driving habits. If drivers realize they are guilty of talking or texting on their mobile phones, eating or drinking while driving or changing channels on the car radio, they can lessen their chances of being hurt or killed in a collision by making a choice to stop doing these activities when driving. Smart drivers just drive.”

Citizens can take part in the campaign by talking to other drivers they can influence. For example, parents can talk to their teens, or to elderly family members who still drive. Older drivers are especially vulnerable to distracted driving collisions as a consequence of their changing skill levels and longer reaction time due to age.

For more information, contact the Brampton Safe City Association at 905 793 5484 or visit: www.bramptonsafecity.ca.