Peel Regional Police laid more than 4,600 charges last year in Mississauga and Brampton on drivers talking or texting while they’re behind the wheel.
The latest numbers, revealed in the force’s Annual Report for 2017 released Thursday (June 28), represent a 17 per cent increase in charges from 2016 and prompted Peel’s top cop to issue a stern warning to drivers.
“When you leave here today, put your phone in your trunk. If you’ve got this addiction to your phone, you gotta put it in your trunk,” Police Chief Jennifer Evans said at a Safe City Mississauga Justice Luncheon. “You’re going to get to a stop sign or a stop light and you’re going to look around and unless you are parked (beside a police officer), everyone is going to be on their phone.”
Evans said she oftentimes want to “jump out” of her cruiser at intersections to speak to drivers who are on their phones to warn them of the danger they are putting themselves in and those they share the road with — fellow motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
“We’re still seeing a lot of electronic use (while driving),” she said. “We’re trying to change that culture but it’s not happening.”
A common misconception, Evans said, is drivers who think they can look at their phone, make a call or send a quick text, while they are stopped at a light.
You can’t. It’s still an offence under the Highway Traffic Act.
In March, the OPP announced that, for the fifth year in a row, distracted driving-related deaths have surpassed speed-related fatalities on the roads they patrol.
The penalty for distracted driving is a $490 ticket and three demerit