Distracted driving fatalities declined significantly in Ontario last year

Published: February 28, 2019

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Distracted driving is a huge problem in Canada. Insurance companies raise premiums for offenders, while police have clamped down and governments have created harsh penalties. Still, motorists think its ok to pick up their smartphone behind the wheel. However, could all the campaigns, education programs, and tough love be paying off?

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) says there was a sizeable decrease in distracted driving-related fatalities on the province’s roads and highways during 2018.

55 people died in collisions where distracted driving was a factor, a decrease of 27 from the 82 fatalities recorded in 2017. Not only that, the number could signal a new trend as it is the lowest in nearly ten years.

Are motorists waking up to the dangers of distracted driving? Are increased penalties finally scaring drivers? Only time will tell whether 2018 was the start of a continued decline in distracted driving deaths or just an anomaly.

Through 2018, Ontario police observed a decline across the so-called “Big Four” road death categories. These are the major infractions that cause the most fatalities: distracted driving, speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and impaired driving through drink and/or drugs.

Despite an overall decline when grouping the Big Four together, speeding-related deaths increased by one year-on-year to 76.

While fatalities declined, OPP points out personal injury and property damage collisions significantly increased. Across Ontario, over 72,000 collisions were reported in 2018, a major leap from the 69,000 recorded in 2017.