For the first time since Ontario distracted driving laws were introduced in 2009, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reporting that driver inattention-related road deaths are poised to double the number of impaired-related deaths this year.

As of mid-August, the OPP has investigated 38 road deaths in which an inattentive driver was involved, compared to 19 deaths involving an impaired driver.

While both of these driving behaviours are equally threatening to the safety of road users, this latest data has the OPP calling for a heightened awareness of the prevalence of distracted drivers and the risks they pose on our roads. The OPP is also calling on Ontarians to develop a similar level of public intolerance of these dangerous drivers that exists of impaired drivers.

When you are riding with a distracted driver, know that when their eyes are on their phone or they are distracted by something else, those eyes are not on the road and you are not safe, advises the OPP.

OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair said: “Don’t be a passenger of a distracted driver. Recognize that they are endangering your life. Speak up and insist that they focus on the road and on safe driving. By not doing so, you are contributing to the problem. Since 2009, our officers have investigated more than 600 road deaths that involved an inattentive driver. Consider how many of those innocent lives could have been saved had someone else in the vehicle intervened.”