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Commentary: Distracted driving always a bad idea

National Safe Driving Week starts today
MVT stock Dan Singleton mug
Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette. File photo

As Canada marks National Safe Driving Week Dec. 1-7, drivers are again being reminded of the requirement to never drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

And while that sober driving message has been given many, many times over the past decades, the more current warning against distracted driving is also being repeated again this week.

Whether bringing attention to the dangers of driving while distracted by the use of electronic devices such as cellphones will lead to improvements remains to be seen.

What is known is that as one of the leading causes of injury and death to drivers and passengers on Canadian roads, more needs to be done to address the distracted driving problem.

Distraction is a contributing factor in at least 20 per cent of fatal collisions and at least 25 per cent of collisions resulting in serious injuries on the nation’s roads, according to Transport Canada.

The Canada Safety Council and the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada are again sharing the message that distracted driving is always preventable.

“Personal accountability is a major component of society’s role in reducing distracted driving deaths,” said Gareth Jones, president of the Canada Safety Council. “If you’re in the majority of road users who understand the risks, you owe it to your family and to fellow road users to put the phone away and otherwise minimize distractions.

“It’s a choice that each of us has completely within our control. Building a culture of safe driving happens one person and one decision at a time, so let’s choose well.”

The council has issued a number of tips to avoid distracted driving, including putting your cellphone on silent or do not disturb mode, putting your phone in a glove compartment, a zipped purse or knapsack, and making sure to leave enough time in your schedule to eat and groom before getting in the car.

Distracted driving is easily preventable. Hopefully more drivers will take that message to heart in 2020.

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette.