OPP: Distracted driving more deadly than Impaired Driving

Published: September 3, 2016

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



There are two major problems for driver safety on Canadian roads. While there are numerous issues, distracted driving and impaired driving are responsible for the most injuries and deaths on roadways around the country. However, one of them is considered more taboo than the other, but it is not the most dangerous.

Impaired driving is all too rife. It is a problem for law enforcement and results in deaths across Canada, causing road safety concerns and ultimately causing insurance premiums to rise. However, to the average motorist, operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol is unthinkable, and there is certainly a social stigma attached to offenders.

However, distracted driving does not carry that same stigma. Offenders caught driving while distracted are not frowned upon and most motorists (even those who would never drive impaired) have no issue using a phone while driving, for example. This is a huge problem, because distracted driving is actually more dangerous that impaired driving.

To be more clear, both are equally dangerous as driving practices, but distracted driving is responsible for more deaths on Canadian roads. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) released the number of road deaths caused by distracted and impaired driving this week. Data shows that there were 19 impaired driving deaths, while there were 38 distracted driving deaths. Yes, that’s double.

This brief statistical snapshot suggests that not paying attention is twice as deadly as driving drunk. This is a worrying situation because many drivers simply do not see distracted driving as a crime. They think it is a rule that can be broken and that taking the slap on the wrist (a fine) is worth it if they are even caught.

While drunk driving is also a huge problem, many normal motorists view it as a crime and understand the penalties involve losing a license, massive auto insurance premiums rises, and even jail time. Until motorists are faced with similar punishment for distracted driving, the situation will get worse.

Insurance companies can help by punishing offenders will aggressive premium hikes. However, the industry has asked for help from the government.

In their statement the OPP asked for “a heightened awareness of the prevalence of distracted drivers and the risks they pose on our roads… [We are] also calling on Ontarians to develop a similar level of public intolerance of these dangerous drivers that exists of impaired drivers.”