New study says 55 percent of Ontario drivers still read texts while behind the wheel

The Government of Ontario banned the use of a mobile device while driving in 2009 and recently increased the fine for those caught using their mobile phone when behind the wheel to a minimum of $490 and three demerit points.

There have been several initiatives by the OPP to help reduce the number of distracted drivers on the roads and a sign of progress arrived after Labour Day’s weekend blitz when the police reported 38 percent fewer distracted driving related charges over the same period last year.

However, a new report from Public Health Ontario (PHO) indicates the law has not stopped people from using their mobile device while driving. Based on data from 2,000 adults ages 16 to 24 in Ontario, 90 percent of people know the law is in place, but 55 percent continue to read texts while driving. 44 percent of people go further and actually reply to texts while driving a car. In addition, 57 percent of respondents believe sending a text while driving is, “extremely dangerous behaviour.”

According to the report the main reason behind people texting and driving is to make plans, receive directions, or reading an all-important message the individual feels is urgent.

In a statement to MobileSyrup, Dr. Heather Manson of the PHO said, “overall, survey participants felt texting while driving was risky and dangerous. The greatest percentage reported they would feel guilty if they read/sent texts while driving; they think reading/sending texts while driving is wrong; and reading/sending texts while driving is against their principles. Yet many still reported texting while driving.”

A recent report by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation suggested if current collision trends continue, fatalities from distracted driving will soon exceed those from drinking and driving.