Road Safety Week

OTTAWA – National Road Safety Week kicks off the 2011 safe summer driving season and includes the long weekend.

The Canada Safety Council urges travellers to keep eyes on the road and on other road users.

Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are more prevalent now, and have a greater risk of injury or death on Canada’s roadways. They make up about 25 per cent of those killed or seriously injured each year in traffic crashes. In 2008, 559 vulnerable road users were killed and 3,275 were seriously injured.

Police warn anyone distracted by a ringing phone or programming a GPS, will find it becomes harder to react and avoid collisions. It is essential to limit distractions. Many Canadian jurisdictions, including Ontario, have banned the use of all hand-held electronic devices. That law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, or dial using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communication and entertainment devices.

That includes using GPS, MP3 players (iPods), and entertainment devices with a display screen visible to the driver while driving. Those devices can be used if programmed before starting to drive.

Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is more likely to be involved in a collision than a driver who is focused on the road. Other studies show that dialing and texting carries the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities. A driver is 23 times more likely to get into a collision while  texting or typing behind the wheel. Text messaging takes driver’s eyes away from the road for 4.6 seconds over a six-second interval. That compares to driving an entire length of a football field without looking at the road while travelling 90 kilometres per an hour.

The council urges drivers to always make driving the number one priority. Hands-free is not risk free. The conversation itself could be distracting, giving less attention to the road. Limit distractions to ensure safety of all road users.