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Distracted drivers beware

Police want inattentive motorists to stay off the road.To help meet that goal, the OPP is running its Distracted Driving Campaign this week.“We’re encouraging all people to be safe, and to take a firm stand against distracted driving,” Norfolk OPP Detachment Commander Joseph Varga said on Wednesday. “When you get into your car turn your phone off or put it on silent, wait until you get to where you are going and then check it. No phone call is worth your life.”Distracted driving is considered any form of inattentive driving. It includes, but is not limited to, using a cellphone, eating or drinking, changing the stereo, attending to children in the backseat, or setting your GPS device.Tougher penalties for distracted driving came into effect in January. Drivers can face at $1,000 fine, three-day licence suspension and lose three demerit points if convicted.Repeat offenders face even steeper penalties that come with being convicted a second or third time.Penalties for a second distracted driving conviction within five years are a fine of up to $2,000, a seven-day licence suspension and six demerit points.“All subsequent convictions within five years will face a fine of up to $3,000, six demerit points, and will lose their licence for up to 30 days,” said Varga.The official campaign runs this week, but police have their eyes out for this issue year round.Norfolk OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk hopes drivers will consider what they are putting at risk before they look at their phone.“People need to put their technology away and value their life,” said Sanchuk.He says it’s easy for people to assume they will never be involved in a collision caused by distracted driving, but numbers show it happens more often than people think.There have been about 13,500 charges, 55 deaths, and 9,000 investigated collisions attributed to distracted driving in Ontario in the past year.“When you get in a vehicle and you’re a passenger you need to speak up,” Sanchuk said. “If you see a driver on their phone let them know that they’re putting your life in danger. If we put the technology away and focus 100 per cent on our driving we shouldn’t see any collision happening whatsoever.”[email protected] read more