On average 31 people are killed and 892 people are hurt in distracted driving collisions each year in the province.
This month SGI is highlighting the importance of paying attention when on the roads—the first step to staying safe.
Spokesperson Tyler McMurchy said while the first thing that often comes to mind when people hear the term ‘distracted driving,’ is cell phone use, inattention goes beyond that.
He listed examples such as eating, applying makeup, and tending to pets or other passengers--all falling under the category of distracted driving.
“If you think about driving, what do you have to do? You have to pay attention to other vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians, you're steering, braking, signaling and watching for traffic lights and signals and road hazards,” he said. “When you add to that with other activities you take your focus away from the road and it can lead to an unsafe situation."
The serious consequences that can accompany distracted driving are why penalties start with a $580 ticket and four demerits and escalate for repeat offences.
Some tips for drivers to avoid getting distracted include putting their phones out of reach, secure loose items and pets, and plan ahead when it comes to passengers, directions, and music.
However, the ones operating a 2,500-kg vehicle aren't the only ones who need to pay attention; cyclists and pedestrians should take steps to protect themselves from distracted drivers.
“As much as we’d like all drivers to pay attention, unfortunately, some don’t," McMurchy added. "It’s important for vulnerable road users to do what they can to keep themselves safe as well.”
Pedestrians should cross at crosswalks, obey walk signals, and look both ways before stepping into the street as well as making eye contact with any approaching drivers.
Cyclists can protect themselves by wearing helmets and reflective clothing, and by taking extra care at intersections.
"[Distracted driving] is a serious offense that carries serious consequences," he said. "We advise people when they're behind the wheel, to be alert and keep their focus on the road."