Driving requires your full attention. Distractions can compromise your judgment and affect your ability to drive safely, so it is important to stay focussed and mindful at all times.
It may seem low risk to check your phone for a few seconds during your commute, but a lot can happen in a short amount of time. According to CAA, spending just five seconds responding to a text while driving 90 km/h means you've travelled the length of a football field distracted. Imagine if the car in front of you was to swerve into your lane or an animal was to jump into the road and you didn't notice. In an emergency, every second counts.
During the month of January 2020, Nova Scotia RCMP charged 88 people with using a cell phone while driving. The fine for using a mobile phone or texting while operating vehicle is $237.50 in Nova Scotia with fines for second and third offences at $352.50 and $582.50, respectively.
Distracted driving happens when a driver's attention is diverted because they are focused on something non-driving related. Examples of distracted driving can include:
- using a mobile device
- reading (e.g. books, maps)
- programming a GPS
- watching videos
- eating or drinking
- smoking or vaping
- adjusting the radio
- listening to extremely loud music
As one of the four casual factors of fatal and serious injury collisions, distracting driving puts you and everyone on the road at risk. Distracted driving can lead to reduced reaction time, impaired judgement and serious or fatal injuries.
Here are some tips to help avoid distracted driving:
- Keep your cellphone out of reach. Reduce the temptation to use it by keeping it out of sight (for example, in a bag in the backseat) and turn the ringer off.
- Plan your route ahead of time. Before you get in the car, know where you're going and how you're getting there. If you use a GPS system, program your route prior to starting the car.
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving. If you need to take a drink, wait until you are stopped at a red light.
- Keep music or radio at a reasonable volume. Music should never be so loud that you would not be able to hear a siren, or the screech of brakes from another vehicle.
If you believe someone is driving in a way that is an immediate threat to public safety, please call 911 when it is safe to do so. Include as much detail as possible, such as the location, direction of travel, vehicle and driver description and license plate number.