My concerns for this year can be grouped into one central theme, the safety of Ontario’s roads for drivers.
One of my concerns is that people are not getting the message about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Recently, I was shocked when I saw the statistics Durham Region police released, in early January, from their annual Festive R.I.D.E campaign. Despite stopping over 800 less cars than the previous year’s campaign, there were more people charged with drinking and driving offenses. 112 people were charged in 2017, up from 99 in 2016.
It baffles me that some people seem to think it's okay to drive after drinking, especially given how accessible information about the perils of drinking and driving is, in this day and age. It also makes me a little more afraid for all North Durham drivers.
However, drinking and driving is not the only driving trend I am concerned about.
Recently, in a video posted on his twitter account, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Sgt., Kerry Schmidt reported that there were 341 people killed in road collisions on roads patrolled by the OPP in 2017, which was an over 11 per cent increase from 2016.
He stated in the video that the highest percentage of accidents were “distracted or inattentive related collisions.” He also stressed that this is not limited to just cellphone use, but “all sorts of activities that are taking your attention away from driving.”
As a driver myself, I know that to drive safely you truly need to have “eyes in the back of your head” as the old saying goes. A driver being distracted for even a moment can lead to a fatal accident. Driving requires your 100 per cent attention and the fact that the OPP is reporting that distracted driving is still a top killer confirms this point.
I hope when we reach the end of this year, the statistics regarding drunk driving and distracted driving will represent a decrease from 2017. If nothing else, safer roads for all drivers, young and old, is something I hope to see in 2018.