Distracted driving one of Niagara Region's most considerable problems

THOROLD, ON (October 13, 2020) – CAA Niagara urges motorists to focus on the road ahead, as distracted driving becomes one of the Region's most considerable problems.

A current Niagara audit shows 45% of motorists (18 years or older) state they have used a mobile device while driving. The 2018 Road Safety Audit reported that one of Niagara injury's top five causes is motor vehicle collisions, and the number one cause of fatalities in the region is transportation accidents between the ages of 15 and 24.

"It's important we keep our focus on the road and not on unnecessary distractions," said Peter Van Hezewyk, President and CEO of CAA Niagara. "We're seeing more people take advantage of COVID-19 friendly activities, and as restrictions began to loosen, more vehicles will be on our roads. As a motorist, you need to be thinking about everyone's safety."

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have taken up outdoor activities such as walking, jogging, and cycling. CAA reported in a recent national survey that 35% of those surveyed in Ontario agreed they have been cycling more frequently, so it is essential for motorists to pay attention.

If a motorist is caught in Niagara driving while distracted, the penalty could be between $615 and $3,000, along with three to six demerit points. If a motorist is guilty of an accident caused by distracted driving, motorists could face reckless or careless driving, leading to jail time.

CAA recommends a few simple tips to keep focused on the road and avoid distracted driving: Keep your phone out of sight. Make sure to keep your phone out of reach or sight while driving, avoiding any urge to check emails, texts or missed phone calls. If it's a real emergency, safely pull over to the side of the road or a parking lot, turn on your four ways and make the call.

Enjoy your meals before your drive, or once you've reached your destination. If you are running late, it's safer to eat breakfast once you've arrived at work rather than during your driving. If you are grabbing fast food, avoid the urge to start eating while in the car, it's an unnecessary distraction.

Give yourself time. Make sure to give yourself time to do everything you may need to do, like eating, grooming or texting. When you're in the vehicle, your focus should only be on driving and what's ahead of you.

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Motorist holding cell phone while driving.