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Distracted Driving Statistics Alarming
Written by Blair Carter
A recent report conducted for Ford Motor Co. revealed some interesting stats about distracted driving. The report stated that 99 per cent of licensed drivers said they were safe drivers. Yet, the same group admitted that they regularly engaged in activities classified as “distracted” while behind the wheel.
Seventy-six per cent of respondents admitted that they ate while driving, and 54 per cent said they used a hand-held cellphone while driving.
For me, this report illustrates one of the biggest issues facing motorists and pedestrians today — namely, the blasé attitude toward distracted driving in general. Motorists admit to being engaged in distracted activities while driving, but few admit it’s a problem. But distracted driving is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away. Every day, I see drivers of all ages casually chatting away on cellphones, texting, eating food, putting on makeup or shaving and fidgeting with electronic gadgets. For these motorists, operating a vehicle appears to be the last thing on their minds, a task unworthy of their full attention. The aforementioned report would lead us to believe that distracted driving is not an issue, at least according to the drivers themselves. But the true facts about distracting driving tell a more sobering and realistic story.
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), “You are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you text while driving and four times more likely if you talk on a cellphone (hand-held or hands-free) while driving.” The IBC also says that distracted drivers experience the same level of impairment as someone with a blood-alcohol content of .08 and that distracted driving is estimated to be a contributing factor in eight out of 10 police-reported crashes. To address this ongoing problem, the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) has joined forces with the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) to launch an awareness campaign highlighting the dangers and consequences of distracted driving. (To view the print ads, visit www.tada.ca.)
The campaign focuses on four common themes: talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device; texting while driving; selecting music on an MP3 device while driving; and checking email or checking social media-GPA enabled social media sites while driving. The TADA is committed to the issue of distracted driving and understands the importance of a sustained campaign with a consistent message, in order to achieve any effect. We need to remind ourselves that operating a motor vehicle on public roadways requires our full attention at all times. The slightest distraction, however justified in the driver’s mind, could instantly lead to tragedy and alter lives forever.
This awareness campaign is an important step in helping to educate motorists about the dangers of distracted driving. But even with the best of intentions of the OPPA, TADA and IBC, convincing motorists to give driving their full attention will require a sustained effort over many years.
In the 1970s, new seat belt laws met with some resistance before achieving widespread acceptance among drivers. In the 1980s, tougher drinking and driving laws met with resistance until that unlawful activity became a social taboo. For current distracting driving laws to have an appreciable impact, there needs to be a major cultural shift in attitudes among motorists, passengers, government agencies, pedestrians and the public.
In addition to advertising campaigns, we need to start viewing distracted driving as socially unacceptable and attach serious financial consequences to such behaviour (current fines range from $155 to $500 in Ontario, which amounts to a slap on the wrist). Until the culture surrounding distracted driving changes and society decides that it will no longer tolerate it, we will continue fighting an uphill battle.
Multi-tasking behind the wheel
Written by Blair Carter
Reprinted from a Toronto Star Article. May 11, 2012
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
One of my favourite questions I like to pose to drivers taking our advanced driver training sessions is, “Are you capable of multitasking and do you do it while driving?”
Most people respond that they can. My informal survey in the classroom sessions shows more women than men will say they can multitask.
Contrary to popular belief, humans can not multitask. When I point out this fact I always get looks of disbelief.
Here is a simple test to prove to yourself it can not be done. It is a simple demonstration I use in our classroom to prove it to our advanced driving motorists.
Most people know the tune to “Jingle Bells” and the tune to “O Canada”. If you can multitask you would be able to tap out the beat to “Jingle Bells” with your left hand while tapping the tune to “O Canada” with your right hand.
Go ahead and try it.
Not one person has been able to do this simple task. I always enjoy watching the uncoordinated attempts as they sit at the table trying desperately to tap out both tunes at the same time.
Because the human brain is incapable of multitasking. Detailed research including brain scans show that our brain will not multitask but instead will compartmentalize the tasks.
In other words, your brain will jump from task to task spending some time on each but never doing both at the same time. The bad news is you do not get to pick which task to focus on and when. Your brain does that randomly.
This is important to know because we can not talk and process vital driving information at the same time. Drivers will either process the information in the conversation and a response or they will process driving information but not both.
In other words, in 10 seconds of typical driving while carrying on a conversation (in car or on a hands free cell phone) drivers will process four seconds of the conversation, then four seconds of response and possibly only two seconds of processing actual driving information (traffic flow, road conditions, etc.).
Processing only two seconds of vital driving information out of every 10 seconds of driving is dangerous. This is why distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes and collisions.
Allowing yourself to become distracted by talking on the cell phone, text messaging or any of the other preoccupations is a form of impaired driving! Remember, not being able to process driving information due to distraction is dangerous.
Impaired Driving isnt ALWAYS Drunk Driving
Written by Blair Carter
You dont have to be drunk to be impaired. I should know: I found myself driving impaired just before Christmas. Many of you do it frequently, if not every day.
I'm talking about texting when you're driving. Is this impaired driving ? I recently asked a group of about 45 High School students. The answer was almost unanimous. YES IT IS !!
Here's how my impaired driving almost got me killed, right before Christmas...
I was driving home through Brooklin, which is a little village north of Whitby. There was construction on Winchester Rd as it ran through town, and as I made my way along at about 20 kph, I was talking on my cell phone. I was totally hands-free, using my Bluetooth, although whether even this should be legal is a question for another day. When the call ended, I was almost through town, where Winchester Rd meets Thickson road at a set of lights. The speed limit on intersecting Thickson is 80 km/hr. As the call ended, I received a text, and looked down at my phone to see who it was (and yes quite likely read it too). I was only doing 20 kph after all ! Well, the ten seconds or so that my eyes were off the road were ten seconds too many. When I looked up again, I was in the middle of the intersection on a red light. I slammed on the brakes and came to a stop dead centre in the middle of Thickson Road. As the car came to a lurching halt, a pickup truck flew through the intersection (his light was green and he was probably doing the speed limit or thereaboutsclose to it).
He missed me by only a few feet. If I had read through the entire text, he would have hit me. If I had read even another WORD in the text, he would have hit me. I would have been seriously injured or killed - 80 kph into the side of another vehicle makes one hell of an impact - and I would have been responsible for whatever happened to the person or persons in the pickup truck.
Something like this can happen in a heartbeat. I know only too well - I lost my daughter in less time than it took you to read this sentence. I should have known better. Please dont make this mistake - you may not be as lucky as I was.
RIDE Program 2011 - Early Statistics are Disappointing
Written by Blair Carter
This time of year must be one of frustration for some members of the Durham Regional Police Service. Just one weekend into the service's annual Festive RIDE program, 19 motorists have been charged with impaired driving.
This total is despite years of anti-drunk driving messages, years of beating the drum not to drink and drive, years of waging the battle. Yet, for some, the dangers of having a few and then getting behind the wheel still haven't registered. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the DRPS kicked off its 2011 campaign. On Monday, out came the press release with the discouraging news of the impaired charges and seven three-day suspensions. If there's a silver lining in this black cloud, it's the seven three-day suspensions. Last year, in the first week of the campaign, 22 motorists saw their licences suspended. Why is it, that after repeated calls, demands, requests, pleas to not drink and drive, some just don't heed the message? Why is it some people don't think the rules apply to them? At the kick-off, Chief Mike Ewles said, "This program has had incredible results. It is critical that this holiday season is the best. We will get these people off of the streets and we will hold them accountable for their actions." Driving drunk is no different that waving a loaded weapon while intoxicated. No one would or could argue that waving a gun while drunk is a good idea. Yet, too many still think it's worth the risk to get behind the wheel while impaired. It's early in the RIDE program and the numbers could come in lower than last year's total of 155 charged with impaired offences or issued a warning. If you're driving, make the smart choice of planning ahead and finding an alternate way home. For those still thinking the risk is worth it, facing an impaired charge could mean $50,000 in costs -- hiring a lawyer, paying for an alternate method of transportation for a year, going through the process of getting a driver's licence again and then increased insurance costs once you get your licence back. And that's only if you're lucky. Choosing to drink and drive could cost your life.
This total is despite years of anti-drunk driving messages, years of beating the drum not to drink and drive, years of waging the battle. Yet, for some, the dangers of having a few and then getting behind the wheel still haven't registered.
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the DRPS kicked off its 2011 campaign. On Monday, out came the press release with the discouraging news of the impaired charges and seven three-day suspensions.
If there's a silver lining in this black cloud, it's the seven three-day suspensions. Last year, in the first week of the campaign, 22 motorists saw their licences suspended.
Why is it, that after repeated calls, demands, requests, pleas to not drink and drive, some just don't heed the message?
Why is it some people don't think the rules apply to them?
At the kick-off, Chief Mike Ewles said, "This program has had incredible results. It is critical that this holiday season is the best. We will get these people off of the streets and we will hold them accountable for their actions."
Driving drunk is no different that waving a loaded weapon while intoxicated. No one would or could argue that waving a gun while drunk is a good idea. Yet, too many still think it's worth the risk to get behind the wheel while impaired.
It's early in the RIDE program and the numbers could come in lower than last year's total of 155 charged with impaired offences or issued a warning. If you're driving, make the smart choice of planning ahead and finding an alternate way home.
For those still thinking the risk is worth it, facing an impaired charge could mean $50,000 in costs -- hiring a lawyer, paying for an alternate method of transportation for a year, going through the process of getting a driver's licence again and then increased insurance costs once you get your licence back.
And that's only if you're lucky.
Choosing to drink and drive could cost your life.
Fifty Percent of Urban Speeding Drivers Killed Aged 16-24
Written by Blair Carter
From The Toronto Star
Just recently, there have been three serious crashes in the GTA involving younger drivers and high speeds. Two of them have resulted in fatalities and all involved serious life-threatening injuries. In these separate incidents, police are looking at excessive speed as a major factor.
This has prompted Scarborough-Agincourt MP Jim Karygiannis to introduce a bill to force the auto manufacturers to install speed-limiting devices in personal vehicles. He has suggested a speed limit of 150 kp/h for all autos.
Is Karygiannis blowing smoke? Or will speed limiters on all vehicles really save lives?
On the positive side, it could mean fewer police chases if motorists know they are limited to a speed much lower than the police. It would be very difficult to try to outrun a squad car capable of 200 kp/h if you can only do 150. This is assuming that Karygiannis will exempt police vehicles from his legislation.
According to Transport Canada, “speeding was a factor in about 25 per cent of deaths and 20 per cent of serious injuries from vehicle crashes.”
I have always wondered, how did the crash investigators determine that it was the speeding that caused the crash? Speed may have been a contributor but was it the real cause?Could these speed-related fatalities really be a combination of factors such as distraction and speeding? Or are some a fatigue and speed combination?
In other words, was it speeding that caused the crash or did the speed at which the crash occurred ensure the injuries were fatal?
We have to realize that the age-old adage “speed kills” is nothing more than a misconception. It is not speed that kills. It is the collision or sudden stop that kills.
Granted, the higher the speed the more energy there is to be dissipated in a collision. This means high-speed collisions will cause more fatalities and serious injuries than low-speed crashes.
Limiting a vehicle to 150 kp/h will probably have very little, if any, effect on vehicle fatalities. A crash at 145 kp/h will be just as fatal as a crash at 150 kp/h. For that matter, a crash at 30 kp/h can also be fatal.
If a vehicle crashes at 200 kp/h, and the occupants are killed, would they have survived if they crashed at 150 kp/h? At those speeds, it is not likely.
The Transport Canada study also says: “Young adult drivers figure prominently in speeding crash statistics, but they pose the greatest risk on urban roads. During 2002-2004, almost 50 per cent of speeding drivers involved in fatal urban crashes were aged 16-24 years.”
It is a lot easier to reach speeds of 150 kp/h on rural highways but many of these speed-related crashes occurred on urban streets where the speeds were probably lower than 150 kp/h.
Speed limiters will not prevent “street racing.” Drivers will still race cars, even with speed limiters. It will simply become a race to hit the limiter first.
It’s not speed we need to limit. It is the crashes we need to limit.
Driving at 150 kp/h could be perfectly safe when conditions such as proper training, no traffic, perfect weather and a safe vehicle all come together. The trouble is, those conditions are never present unless on a race track. Race car drivers can motor around the Indianapolis Speedway averaging 320 kp/h and do so quite safely.
On the other hand, driving at 100 kp/h on Hwy. 401 could be very dangerous, even though it is well under the limit proposed by MP Karygiannis. This is evident every winter when motorists and truckers try to drive too fast for the conditions such as on snowy or icy roads. A speed limiter would be of no help in those situations.
It’s not a matter of driving fast, it’s a matter of “driving stupid.” Unfortunately, we can’t limit that — but better driver training can help with understanding the risks and improving control skills.
Instead of putting a limit on speed, why don’t we remove the limits placed on driver education?
Brian Tobin's Son Receives 3 Years in Prison
Written by Blair Carter
OTTAWA (from The Toronto Star) —The son of former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for the drunk-driving stunt that killed his close friend last year.
“This is a very difficult case for all involved. In a tragic case such as this, the emotions run high and that was apparent throughout the proceedings,” Judge Lise Maisonneuve said as she sentenced Jack Tobin, 25, to three years in a penitentiary and a seven-year driving ban.
Tobin pleaded guilty in May to impaired driving causing the death of 24-year-old Alex Zolpis, a close friend with whom he attended high school and then Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Zolpis died when he was pinned under a pickup truck that Tobin was driving packed with five other friends, all heavily drunk after a night out, in a rooftop parking lot in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve.
“These are extremely trying times, for both Alex’s family and for the Tobin family,” said Maisonneuve, who took one hour to read her judgment Monday morning. “There is no sentence that I can impose that will remove the loss, the pain and the hurt, suffered by the victim’s family and friends ... When dealing with a case involving a loss of life, the sentence is not to be seen as an evaluation of the worth of the victim or to be equated with the value of the deceased’s life.”
Emma Roberts, who was Zolpis’ long-time girlfriend, nonetheless said she will never be satisfied.
“Alex is gone. He was killed by a drunk driver, who drove extremely recklessly and we’re left to pick up the pieces,” Roberts told reporters outside the courthouse Monday.
Brian Tobin told reporters that his son was taking responsibility for his actions and he still has a future ahead of him.
“I can tell you that he is a good son and a good brother who made a serious mistake,” the former premier said outside the courthouse as he stood beside his wife, Jodean.
“He is going to pay the price for that mistake and we have every confidence that he will continue, at the appropriate time, to make a contribution. The best way he can honour his friend Alex is to do that — to have a good life and make a contribution to his community and we know that he will.”
Maisonneuve said she weighed aggravating factors such as a history of reckless driving – including 11 speeding convictions and three license suspensions – against mitigating factors such as Tobin’s “extreme feelings of remorse and shame” when she came up with the three-year sentence.
She also noted the facts of the case “are unusual in nature,” in that Tobin was fooling around with the car in an empty rooftop parking lot – with six other friends who were drinking in the car – rather than speeding down the highway and or going through stoplights.
Maisonneuve said the facts led her to conclude “the level of blameworthiness” of Tobin is less than in other drunk-driving cases, even though she agreed with the Crown that he engaged in “a gravely irresponsible act.”
Tobin was also ordered to provide a blood sample to the court.
Crown attorney Mark Moors had asked for five years in jail plus a 10-year ban on driving, arguing it would send a strong message to others about the consequences of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Maisonneuve decided that would be too harsh a sentence, but also said that what defence lawyer Norman Boxall was asking for – 18 to 30 months in prison plus a five-year prohibition on driving – was too light to serve as a general deterrence.
The judge had hinted that in addition to jail time it could include an order for Tobin to speak to schools about the deadly consequences of his mistake.
In order to do that, his sentence would have to have been no longer than two years and in the end she decided that was not long enough.
At the end of his sentencing hearing earlier this month, a tearful Jack Tobin told the court that he hopes others will learn from what he did wrong.
“If there is any good to come from this very dark cloud, I hope that it will be this message to others,” Tobin told a packed courtroom Aug. 5 as he apologized to the family of the friend he killed while drunkenly spinning his tires in an icy parking lot.
“The consequences of drinking and driving are deadly, they are real, they are enduring — a nightmare from which you never wake up.”
Dr. Ed Zolpis, the father of the victim, said Monday that he hopes the sentence drives that message home.
“We hope that the tragedy of Alex’s death and the judge’s decision today will be a reminder to all of us of the serious consequences of drinking and driving,” Zolpis said outside the courthouse. “Everyone must be careful to avoid placing others at risk from their poor judgment and reckless behaviours.”
Texting and Driving Kills Teen
Written by Blair Carter
Parents of Ontario teen killed after texting and driving speak out
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA — The parents of an Ontario teen who died in an accident are pleading with people not to text while driving.
Damon Souliere was on his way home to Pembroke on the weekend when his car hit a tractor trailer head-on.
The 18-year-old had just sent a text to a friend he saw the night before, saying he had a good time.
Damon’s mother, Susanne, says text messages from friends were still coming through to his phone when emergency crews arrived at the scene.
Now, Damon’s family is spreading the message: Don’t text and drive.
His younger brother, Wesley, just got his driver’s licence, and says “If anyone loves anyone, you shouldn’t have to go through this. Never text and drive.”
Ontario Provincial Police say 35 people were killed last year because of distracted driving and 1,000 more were injured.
"Webbing While Driving" the Newest Concern
Written by Blair Carter
Forget texting and driving or talking on the phone and driving: Those extremely dangerous habits are old hat. The new worry, says a new survey released by State Farm this week, is what the insurance company cleverly calls “webbing while driving.”
That means looking up Web pages, following driving directions, reading and composing e-mails, checking Facebook and twiddling with smart-phone apps — activities that require sustained concentration and multiple key presses.
Among the 912 smart-phone users State Farm surveyed, more than 19 percent of them “webbed” while driving, the company said. That’s nearly one smart-phone-equipped driver out of every five.
“We are working to prevent crashes and save lives,” Cindy Garretson, State Farm’s director of auto technology research, said in a statement. “This research takes us one step closer to understanding the driver distractions that affect everyone on our roadways.”
The survey respondents said they tend to “web” while in heavy traffic, stopped at a red light, during daylight hours or on long drives on the open road.
The survey does not necessarily reflect trends in the greater population: Because it was conducted online, it is more likely to include tech-savvy individuals and younger people. And surveys without random samples are not generally scientific.
As the State Farm study points out, close to 40 percent of Americans have smart phones now, and that number is growing fast. And though we are frequently reminded not to text and drive, the safety message may not have caught up to the current technology.
© 2011, Los Angeles Times
The Future of Impaired Driving Prevention
Written by Blair Carter
Check out this youtube video about the development of new technology aimed at eliminating impaired driving.
2010 Durham Region's Festive R.I.D.E. Final Statistics
Written by Blair Carter
The seventh and final week of the 2010 Festive R.I.D.E. campaign has concluded and another 15 people were charged with various drinking and driving offences.
That brings the total to 138 people charged with drinking and driving offences during the 2010 Festive R.I.D.E. campaign, compared to 122 last year. In the 2008 campaign, 152 motorists were charged with various drinking and driving offences.
Is NOBODY Listening to the message ??
Written by Blair Carter
It seems not....
Four weeks in, Durham RIDE has nabbed 84 drunk drivers.
DURHAM -- Several novice drivers were among those found to have been drinking and driving as Durham police continued their 2010 Festive RIDE campaign for the fourth week.Another 19 people were arrested for impaired driving during the week, bringing to 84 the number of people charged with drinking and driving during the annual campaign.
After the fourth week of last year's RIDE effort, 81 impaired charges had been laid.Among those cited were eight G1 and G2 novice drivers who were found to be breaching their no-alcohol restriction, police said. Two novice drivers had their licenses suspended for 24 hours, while two other drivers under 22 were also given suspensions During week four, Durham officers stopped 1,530 vehicles and administered 94 roadside breath tests. Of those drivers, 19 were found to be over the legal blood-alcohol limit and another 25 had their licenses suspended for registering a warning level.
1 in 5 Drink and Drive ?
Written by Blair Carter
1 in 5 drink and drive, poll suggestsAbout one in five Ontario drivers sometimes get behind the wheel even when they believe they drank enough to be impaired, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Canadian Automobile Association.
In the online poll of 600 Ontarians, 18 per cent of respondents said they drove at least once during the past year at a time they thought their alcohol level might have been close to or over the legal limit. Seven per cent said they did it “just once,” 10 per cent said they did it “rarely” and one per cent admitted to doing it “fairly often.”
Another Death from Impaired Driving ?
Written by Blair Carter
Accident claims the life of Uxbridge teen
PICKERING -- A 17-year-old Uxbridge girl who was critically injured in a weekend accident has died of her injuries.
The teen was a passenger in a car that was involved in a collision with an SUV and then burst into flames at the intersection of Regional Road 5 and Westney Road in Pickering just after midnight Saturday morning.
The teen was rushed to Sunnybrook Hospital with life-threatening injuries and police said Monday morning that she passed away.
Police say her name is not being released at the request of the family.
The 18-year-old boy who was driving was taken to Markham-Stouffville Hospital with serious injuries and three other passengers were treated for minor injuries at Lakeridge Health Oshawa.
Investigators say the SUV ended-up upside down, off the highway, in a creek. But the driver and passengers did not suffer serious injuries.
Investigators say they're trying to determine why the car continued across the regional road before it was involved in the collision with the SUV.
They say road and weather conditions were poor at the time and alcohol may have been a contributing factor.
from Clarington This Week
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