Distracted drivers breaking all the rules

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/09/21/drivers-breaking-all-the-rules

Distracted driving isn’t taking a back seat anytime soon.

In one hour, 91 drivers in Barrhaven were seen ignoring the road by Allstate insurance agents during a survey on Thursday.

“We found a lot of people multi-tasking,” said agency manager J.C. Larabie.

Larabie and a colleague staked out Greenbank Rd. and Strandherd Dr. — “the hub of Barrhaven” — from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.

Motorists were eating, drinking, using a GPS, smoking and searching for items.

“Lots of people were grooming,” said Larabie.

Others were talking to — and making eye contact with — passengers.

Larabie is concerned since “80% of collisions are caused by distracted driving,” he said.

Allstate agents in 11 other Canadian cities conducted similar counts, for a total of 1,826 inattentive drivers.

Across Ottawa, police deal with distracted driving daily.

“It’s everywhere. People just don’t understand,” said Sgt. Mark Gatien.

Within a five-minute span on Wednesday, Gatien said he caught two drivers texting.

“They think that when you’re stopped at a red light then they can use the phone,” said Gatien.

“You cannot do that.”

Under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, distracted driving — which pertains to hand-held devices — nets a $155 fine, with no demerit points.

Careless driving “must be more than a moment of inattention,” said Gatien, and carries a penalty of six demerit points.

If a driver has a cigarette in one hand, a hamburger in the other, and is driving with his knees, “that I would charge someone with careless for,” said Gatien. “Eating on its own is not sufficient to have a careless charge.”

Twitter: ottawasunkroche

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