The Oxford County Injury Prevention Team is backing a social media and prevention campaign to encourage distraction-free driving, especially among teens.
The Oxford County Injury Prevention Team (OCIPT) will be promoting the #PutDownThePhone campaign created by the Ministry of Transportation and sharing sobering facts with local high school students in early December.
“We’ve seen statistics that since 2000 distracted driving has doubled. It’s been shown in Ontario that one person is injured by distracted driving every half an hour,” said Brittany MacKay, a public health nurse and member of OCIPT.
“Almost everyone has a phone with them.”
It’s especially important to target young people, MacKay said, and that’s why OCIPT will be setting up near student parking lots at area high school between Dec. 5 and Dec. 8.
“We’re seeing it in the youth especially, that they’re doing a lot more distracted driving,” MacKay said. “Everyone is so tied to their cell phones that they feel they always need to have it on them, always need to be using it.”
The injury prevention team will also focus on education young people about what, exactly, constitutes distracted driving.
“I think a lot of the times there’s misperception of ‘ok, I’m at a traffic light, I’m stopped, I can look down at my phone,’” MacKay said. “Using your phone to talk, text, check maps, or choose a playlist while you’re behind the wheel all counts as distracted driving.”
A driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road, according to 2013 collision data
cited by the OCIPT.
The consequence for those charged with distracted driving is a fine between $490 and $1,000 and three demerit points. For teens with a G1 or G2 licence, a conviction results in automatic suspension.
That can often be a shocker for young people.
After the #PutDownThePhone campaign, Oxford’s injury prevention team will also be bringing impaired driving presentations to youth in the county.
Safety behind the wheel is a hot topic in the southwest region, where a 23-year-old London man and 26-year-old Kitchener were hit with impaired driving charges after deadly collisions just days apart.