N.S. Mounties say they're seeing more distracted drivers despite warnings and education campaigns
HALIFAX -- For years, the Mounties have been warning people about the dangers of distracted driving, but it seems some drivers aren't getting the message.
In the last year, Halifax District RCMP say they're seeing more of the dangerous habit.
"It just takes a second, having your eyes down for just a second," said Nova Scotia RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Lisa Croteau. "The person in front of you could have an animal go in front of them, or anything could happen that they do a sudden movement, and you're not looking and then you end up in a collision with that other vehicle."
In fact, Halifax District RCMP have actually been seeing more people using their cell phones while behind the wheel.
Statistics show that from Jan. 1 to the end of September, there were 580 charges in the Halifax area alone for people using a cell phone or texting while operating a vehicle on a highway.
In all of 2018, there were 347 charges and in 2017 there were less than 300.
"We believe the increase is people are more aware, people are calling in actually -- calling in distracted drivers," Croteau said. "We're doing more unique initiatives; we're using spotters to detect distracted drivers and people using their cell phones."
According to CAA, drivers using a mobile device are up to four times more likely to be involved in a crash and that about 26 per cent of all car crashes involve phone use.
They also say checking a text for 5 seconds means that at 90 km/h, you've travelled the length of a football field blindfolded.
In an effort to curb distracted driving, one Halifax company has developed a device called "Drive Care."
"Back in March 2011, there was a car crash involving two of my children," said Angus Poulain of Keeping Roads Safe. "There was a driver that ran a red light and crashed into the vehicle carrying my two kids and 3 other vehicles, totally writing them all off. That crash was caused by someone using their cell phones while driving."
From that moment on, Poulain has dedicated his time to find a solution to people using their cell phones while driving.
Once the device is attached to a vehicle, Drive Care stops the driver from receiving texts, phone calls and emails.
The hope is that by keeping drivers focused on the road, and not their phone, everyone will be safer.
"People are just very addicted to the technology and they become addicted to their cell phones," Poulain said. "They don't know how to put them down and they don't want to be away from them."
Friday marked the beginning of Operation Impact, a national public awareness campaign, aimed at making Canada's roads the safest in the world. Locally, RCMP say they will be out this holiday weekend, looking for both distracted drivers and those who may be impaired by drugs or alcohol.