Distracted driving is a major problem on Ontario roads and is responsible for the most collisions resulting in death or injury. The provincial government is considering creating special zones on highways that would let drivers pull in to check emails, texts, or do anything else that would typically cause a distraction.
Unlike driving under the influence, that carries social stigma and is seen as a criminal act, distracted driving is still not taken seriously be many drivers. It is a fight local governments are trying to win by highlighting that driving while distracted is indeed a crime and the consequences can be dire.
It is currently a losing battle though, with distracted driving accident rates on the rise across. The new text zones could give drivers an incentive to wait before checking correspondence or using a GPS unit, knowing that a zone is coming up where they can stop and check. The drivers would be alerted to approaching text zones by dedicated signs on highways.
Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli proposed that safe texting zones in a bill that favorably voted on by all three parties. The proposal would not call for any additional construction or infrastructure, with 185 existing areas such as parking lots, rest stops, and other areas being used for the safe zones.
Fedeli argues that fines are not enough to stop drivers taking distracted driving as a non-essential requirement, so perhaps giving them somewhere to use their devices might help. He got the idea from New York and Pennsylvania, although it is unclear how successful those programs have been so far.