We just had our first long weekend of the summer and Ontario Police have launched their Drive Safe Campaign in conjunction with National Road Safety Week. (May 15 – 21, 2018). Using the campaign slogan, “Who’s in Control?”, the police emphasized the need for drivers to consider the effects of vehicle safety systems, impaired driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving, and seatbelt safety. Throughout the campaign, police were also warning the public that the legalization and regulation of cannabis means that everyone will have to take extra care on the road.
“Drug-impaired driving is already an issue. With legalization and regulation of cannabis, we expect that, based on the experience in other jurisdictions, drug impaired driving will increase,” said Chief Superintendent Chuck Cox (Ontario Provincial Police). “This is not a new issue to police. We are already dealing with it and have people trained as Drug Recognition Evaluators (DREs) to conduct Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST).”
As new legislation and safeguards come available to stop drug-impaired driving and give police powers to investigate and arrest drug impaired drivers, it is still not clear how the legalization of marijuana will impact police from a day-to-day operational perspective, including how it will affect police agencies’ budgets. There is concern that federal funding for police to deal with the impact of legalized cannabis may not be enough.
Drivers can expect increased police presence on our roads in the hopes of reducing accidents. Officers will be looking to make sure that motorists are in control of their vehicles. This includes distracted driving.
So far this year, OPP have seen 40 deaths related to distracted and inattentive driving. That is around twice the number of impaired-driving deaths. It’s the seventh year in a row that distracted driving has caused more deaths than impaired driving. These stats are startling and disheartening.
If you are a driver, commit to turning your phone to silent and driving without distractions. If you are a passenger in a vehicle and you see the driver is distracted, voice your concerns or choose not to ride with them
The minimum fine for distracted driving is $490 and three demerit points.