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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month And We Interviewed Sgt. Evan Scott

April is distracted driving awareness month, a campaign that aims to recognize the dangers of distracted driving.   During the Ontario March Break, the Ontario Provincial Police issued more than 200 distracted driving charges per day during the targeted Campaign.  Provincial Police issued a total of 1508 distracted driving charges against drivers allegedly holding or using a hand held electronic device while behind the wheel.  Drivers in Ontario are reminded of the increased distracted driving penalties that took effect January 1, 2019 including fines of up to 1000.00, three demerit points and a three-day licence suspension. 

​Distracted drivers in NB receive fines of $ 172.50 while NS fines are $ 233.95 and increase on the 2nd and subsequent offences.  PEI distracted drivers can be fined anywhere from $ 572.00 – $1275.00 !

At Higgins we are creating an educational message on April 1 to raise awareness about distracted driving. We are trying to be proactive before Insurance providers start taking a tougher outlook with people who have tickets for distracted driving. We value all of our clients and want to educate them as best we can.         

We are so grateful that Sgt. Evan Scott of the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force – Traffic Division agreed to answer questions about distracted driving.    

1.  What is considered a “distraction” in distracted driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, adjusting your stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

2.  Can I text at a stop light or waiting in a drive thru?  
No, Section 265.02 of the New Brunswick Motor Vehicle Act states that “No person shall operate a motor vehicle on a highway while using a hand-operated electronic device”.  Under the act, a parking lot (drive-thru) is considered to be a highway.

3.  What do I do if I am involved in an accident with a driver who was on their phone?    
Advise the police when they arrive to investigate the collision.

4.  Can the authorities access the other driver’s phone records if it is believed they were texting while driving, and provide that information to my insurance company?
Not without judicial authorization.

6.  What are some ways to discourage our newly licensed children, not to use cell phones while driving?
As an adult or parent, set an example as well as early education.

7.  Are there any statistics in the Maritime Provinces of accidents/deaths from distracted driving?  
Not that I know of, but in Canada in 2015, there were 418 deaths and 3,036 serious injuries as a result of distracted driving.  (CCMTA Distracted Driving White Paper)

8.  There are many distractions while driving such as eating, pets, etc., why is there so much focus on cell phone usage in the last number of years? 
Distracted driving comes in 3 different forms:

Cognitive distraction
Cognitive or mental distraction is when a driver’s mind isn’t focused on driving. Talking to another passenger or being preoccupied with personal, family, or work-related issues are some examples.
Even drivers listening to their favorite podcast or radio station are at risk; the audio can take the drivers’ focus away from their driving and overall surroundings.

Visual distraction
Visual distraction occurs when a driver looks at anything other than the road ahead. Drivers who check the kids’ seat belts while driving are visually distracted. Electronic devices for the car, such as GPS devices and portable DVDs/digital entertainment systems, also distract drivers.

Manual distraction
Manual distraction is when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel for any reason. Some common examples include eating and drinking in the car, adjusting the GPS, or trying to get something from a purse, wallet, or briefcase.

Texting and driving is particularly dangerous because it involves all 3 forms.

Sgt Scott, we thank you for taking the time to raise awareness on distracted driving in the hope of reducing motor vehicle accidents; we appreciate all that you do.

Also, here is great educational link on Distracted Driving from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Higgins Insurance has been protecting families since 1993. You can reach us 1-866-273-2911.

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