The Deadly Consequences of Distracted Driving
More Than 3000 Distracted Drivers in HRM Every Year
Police in Halifax issue more than 3000 tickets every year to drivers distracted by the use of their cellphones. Despite the vigilence of HRPD one can only assume that these tickets represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of distracted drivers in Metro Halifax.
Constable Stephen Squires says distracted driving is one of the four main causes of fatal accidents; the other three being impairment, lack of seatbelt use and aggressive driving.
Jail Time for Texting While Driving
Aaron Deveau, an 18-year-old from Boston was recently sentenced to two years in prison for texting while driving. Phone records proved the teenager was sending a text message when his vehicle crossed the center line of a Massachusetts street and struck a truck head-on, killing the truck driver.
Increase in Distracted Driving
A big problem with the current popularity of text-messaging – in addition to the other text-based communication services available on cellphones such as BBM-ing, facebook messaging and emailing – is that there has been a drastic increase in the number of motor vehicle accidents caused by drivers distracted by their phones.
Huge Increase in Risk
According to research published by the Canadian Auto Association, a driver who is using a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a motor vehicle accident. A driver who is texting while driving is 23 times more likely to be in a crash or near crash.
A report prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation notes that:
“At highway speed, a driver sending a simple text message travels the length of a football field without looking at the road.”
Nova Scotia’s Handfree Cell Phone Legislation
Nova Scotia has had hand-held cell phone legislation in place since April of 2008. The fine for a first offence is $164, second offence is $222 and all subsequent offences are $337. In addition, s. 100D(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act states that it is an offence for a person to engage in text messaging while operating a vehicle on a highway and anyone who violates that provision is liable on summary conviction.
In the hustle and bustle of life we are sometimes tempted to take our daily tasks with us out onto the road. For example how many of us have eaten their breakfast on the way to work?
But it is important to remember that you are:
(1) operating heavy machinery at high speeds;
(2) travelling across changing terrain;
(3) calculating speeds and distances constantly; and
(4) responding to other drivers, signs signals and obstacles around you.
New Technology Poses New Risks
With personal entertainment devices becoming cheaper, more available and more portable, we frequently have multimedia players available to us in our cars. While catching up with the latest developments in Survivor might seem tempting when you are stuck in traffic or cruising on the highway, it significantly exposes you and others to serious risks.
End Distracted Driving .Org
In my work over the last 22 years as a personal injury lawyer in Nova Scotia, I have personally seen the terrible consequences of distracted driving. But the consequences of distracted driving was brought home to me in a far more personal way recently when I met Dianne Anderson and Joel Feldman the founders of EndDD.org.
Dianne and Joel’s daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver while she was walking across an intersection. Dianne and Joel started the non-profit organization EndDD.org so that other families would not have to go through the same sorrow that they experienced. I know Joel and Dianne and their passionate commitment to the cause of ending distracted driving is inspiring.
60 for Safety
As a result, I have joined 60 For Safety, a group of lawyers across North America who volunteer their time giving presentations to local schools, parent-teacher associations, civic groups and community organizations with the goal of educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving.
EndDD.org and other traffic-safety groups like NODD.org (No to Distracted Driving), 60 For Safety, MADD Canada and the Canadian Auto Association, hope to end needless deaths by helping Canadians understand what can happen if we don’t drive safely.
If you would like more information about EndDD.org or would like to arrange for a presentation at your school or community group you can contact me for more information.