HIGHLIGHTING INJURY PREVENTION IN ONTARIO
Case Study 4: Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is not just an issue for Ontario or Canada; the problem is a growing concern. Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a collision than drivers who focus on the road. Based on current trends, distracted driving fatalities may overtake drinking and driving fatalities by 2016. Electronic communication device usage is prevalent among young drivers under the age of 25.
In an effort to combat distracted driving, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) banned the use of hand-held communication and entertainment devices and display screens in 2009. The ban included texting, dialling and e-mailing, using iPods, MP3 players, laptop computers, DVD players, and programming a GPS device (other than by voice commands). The only penalties for distracted driving were fines.
MTO and road safety advocates who are interested in partnering with the ministry assisted in the delivery of a province-wide social marketing campaign to address driver distraction and other initiatives related to Bill 31, Making Ontario Roads Safer Act, 2015. This Act includes stiffer penalties for distracted drivers.
Past experience has demonstrated that MTO can leverage their support in terms of the delivery of social marketing products, and public service announcements, etc. To that end, MTO hired an ad agency to develop and implement a province-wide social marketing and public education strategy:
- The ad agency reached out to experts in medical, enforcement and safety organizations such as arrive alive Drive Sober, MADD, OPP, and Toronto Police among others, to get their insights
- Focus group testing took place in rural, northern, and 905, 416 area codes to gain insights from drivers aged 17 - 45
- The strategy will identify the best and most effective media to reach targeted audiences
The long-term objective of the Ministry is to effect change by changing attitudes, behaviour and mindsets, similar to what Ontario has already done with drinking and driving and seat belt usage.
- On June 2, 2015, the province passed Bill 31, Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, 2015
- Stiffer penalties upon conviction for distracted driving came into effect on September 15, 2015, including higher fines, demerit points, and licence suspension for novice drivers