Distracted driving is a major problem on Canadian roads. At best it can mean offenders receive punishment and pay higher auto insurance premiums, but at worst distracted driving can cause injury and death. The newly formed Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving (CCDD) has completed its first meeting over a two-day gathering in Ottawa where it has started to draw a plan to deal with the problem.
The coalition is working towards a National Action Plan that will aim to halt the rise in distracted driving incidents and form a method to raise awareness about the dangers. The CCDD was formed by The Co-operators, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), and Drop it and Drive and it includes members of the government, law enforcement, the health sector, local communities, industry experts, and academics.
Among the early ideas for the National Action Plan (which will launch later this year) include creating improved data gathering to allow drivers to understand the issue and for the coalition to understand the causes of distracted driving. Education will undoubtedly be a big part of any plan and the CCDD discussed potential educational campaigns and a resource center.
“As a member of the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario understands the importance of tackling this problem in our province and across the country,” said John Lefebvre, manager of special projects in the Safety Policy & Education Branch of the MTO. “Sharing strategies and data will assist us all in addressing this increasingly significant issue.”
TIRF has long fought to improve the situation in Canada regarding distracted driving and the foundation collaborated with the Co-operators last year with the release of Distracted Driving in Canada: Making Progress, Taking Action. The study showed the nationwide efforts to combat distracted driving.
“The complexity of the distracted driving problem makes it a challenge to change behavior, so it is critical that we invest time, energy and resources to develop an informed and evidence-based plan that is achievable, and that more importantly contributes to behavior change,” said Robyn Robertson, president & CEO of TIRF. “The diversity of agencies that are participating in the coalition speaks not only to the pervasiveness and seriousness of this issue, but also to their commitment to sharing expertise to find the most effective ways to keep Canadians safe.”