Distracted driving in Canada more deadly than ever
Published Monday, August 29, 2016 5:16PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 29, 2016 6:26PM EDT
The viral confrontation between a motorcyclist and a driver seen texting behind the wheel is sparking debate on distracted driving and whether citizens with cameras should be taking matters into their own hands.
The video at the centre of this story, shared on Facebook by Ottawa’s Erik Hanna, has been seen more than 1.1 million times since Saturday.
Hanna recorded it, he said, to raise awareness about the risks of distracted driving.
As if on cue, alarming new statistics have been released by the Ontario Provincial Police about driving and texting.
For the first time in Ontario, deaths from distracted driving are double that of impaired driving.
So far this year there have been 38 fatalities due to inattention behind the wheel compared to 19 who have died due to impaired driving.
Erik Hanna told CTV Ottawa why he approached the driver on Friday evening. He says he pulled up alongside the vehicle and "at that point she realizes I was there and I tried to get her attention, to put her phone down and she just ignored me.”
At the green light he goes ahead and moments later she cuts into his lane. He pursues her down Woodroffe Ave. before they exchange words.
"I told her ya, I’m recording everything that just happened, I caught you on your phone and trying to run me off the road essentially.”
Ottawa police are now investigating the incident.
"I can tell you that the officers will be looking at everything, actions of the person driving the motorcycle and actions of the person driving the SUV” says Marc Soucy of the Ottawa Police.
This incident left no one injured but that's not always the case.
"It’s a choice that they have to leave those phones alone,” says Ontario Provincial Police Constable Rheal Levac, “It takes just a slight moment to be distracted from the roadway and it can potentially kill somebody and it has.”
Whether you're driving distracted or impaired, police say it's all preventable.
"Most drivers probably have cell phones, I think the accessibility of having your phone is that much greater than choosing to drink alcohol and get behind your wheel,” added Levac.
"Do we need education? Absolutely. It's still going on, we still need education, and we still need enforcement”
As for Hanna’s video, police say its ok for drivers to record people suspected of breaking the law, but do not approach them. Erik Hanna says even with that advice, he admits he'd do it all again."I will always let people know to get off their phone.”