BELLEVILLE, Ont. — Twenty-two motorists have been charged for some driveby shooting — of the photographic kind.
On Monday, Napanee Ontario Provincial Police laid charges of distracted and careless driving after drivers shot images of a collision scene on Highway 401, police say.
One transport truck rear-ended another in the eastbound lane at Napanee at about 6 a.m. Monday, causing serious injuries to one driver. A Midland trucker was charged with careless driving.
Investigators then noticed passing motorists stopping to use their phones and other devices to record the scene.
“One driver was seen using his elbows to steer his car as he videotaped with a video camera,” police stated in a news release, adding the man was charged with careless driving.
They charged 21 others with distracted driving. The provincial offence carries a $155 fine.
“At highway speed, a driver sending a simple text message travels the length of a football field without looking at the road,” according to the release.
And that has Insp. Dave Springer and others concerned.
Though deaths due to lack of seatbelts and impaired and aggressive driving decreased, regional deaths linked to distracted driving have risen.
“There was a 55% increase from 2010 to 2011 in fatal motor vehicle collisions that involved distracted driving,” said Springer, the regional traffic and marine manager. East Region spans from Quinte West to the Quebec border.
To date, nearly 1,800 distracted driving charges have been laid this year in the region.
Springer noted those cases aren’t limited to telephone use; some may also include such distractions as eating or talking with passengers.
“We’re not laying all these tickets because we’re ticket-happy. We want public safety.”