Ontario has unrolled a new ad campaign highlighting the dangers of distracted driving. The message is: "It happens fast. Put down the phone."
Over the past few years, Ontario has doubled, then nearly doubled again, the fines for distracted driving. But data shows that hasn't put much of a dent into drivers who talk or text on their smartphones, especially younger drivers.
The new ads, aimed at ages 16 to 24, count on the visual effect of what happens when a crash is caused by distracted driving: a young man driving, looking down, a crash, an air bag deploying, then the silence of a hospital room, where the nurse asks the same young man, now confined to a wheelchair, how he is feeling. But he can't move or speak, and just stares.
Ontario's transportation minister Steven De Luca says the province is giving distracted drivers a startling reality check, an appeal to get them to put down the phone.
"It's shocking or it's jarring by design. I think we've heard from the Ontario provincial police that fatalities resulting from distracted driving have exceeded all other categories for those fatalities," De Luca said.
De Luca says the latest statistics show there is a distracted driving incident in Ontario every 30 seconds, with the number of deaths nearly doubling since 2000. Sixty-nine people died in Ontario last year where distracted driving collisions were a factor.
Officials say the ads will air on television, radio and social media, as well as movie theaters and on at least one music streaming app. It will become integrated into driver education training for beginners.