Distracted driving a growing problem

Josh Field (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Josh Field (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

MATT INGRAM, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

TORONTO -- In the blink of an eye it was over.

Josh Field, 17, lost control of his car, crossed in front of oncoming traffic and flipped the vehicle into a ditch. The teen died after reaching to answer a ringing cellphone while driving in 2009.

“One moment he was there, then he was gone,” said his mother Kathryn, of Belmont, 25 kilometres south of London, Ont.

“Josh didn’t even own a cellphone, he carried mine in case of emergency and he tried to answer it and it was that small distraction that caused the crash,” she added.

Distracted driving is a growing issue and it’s on track to become a bigger problem.

Between 2002 and 2011, there was a 39% increase in deaths resulting from inattentive and distracted driving, as well as a 26% increase in injuries, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation.

“It changed our family for the rest of our lives. We no longer have our son. His sister no longer has a brother because of a cellphone. People don’t understand the real outcome of trying to answer that call,” said Field.

So far in 2014, the OPP report, 31 people have died in collisions that were a result of inattentive and distracted driving. In 2013, incidents of inattentive driving — including driving while using a handheld device like a cellphone — resulted in 86 deaths on Ontario’s roads.

Those 86 fatalities accounted for one-third of all deaths attributed to traffic collisions in 2013. There were more deaths on the road caused by distracted driving than either drunk driving (65) or failing to wear a seatbelt (71).

Transportation ministry officials say current collision trends show there’s no doubt that inattentive driving will become a more significant factor in traffic fatalities than drinking and driving by 2016.

“It seems to be a growing problem. With all the interconnectivity of devices and how much we refer to them, everybody is finding it harder and harder to disconnect,” said Toronto Police Const. Clinton Stibbe.


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