The Department of Transportation and Works will begin installing new signs along provincial highways in 2020 to remind motorists of the dangers of distracted driving.
Signs with a message that “Distracted Driving Kills” will be installed at various locations on highways with the highest traffic volumes and near entry points to the province. The department will also begin sharing the message over social media.
According to statistics released by the RCMP, 24 people died in 18 vehicle collisions in areas policed by the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2019. Fifty per cent of those collisions involved vehicles that crossed the centre line into the path of an oncoming vehicle, which could indicate impaired driving or distracted driving.
Distracted driving includes behaviors such as using a mobile device, texting, reading, programming a GPS, watching videos, eating and drinking while driving, smoking or vaping, grooming, adjusting the radio, listening to loud music and talking to passengers.
Government has taken a number of steps in recent years to encourage safe driving habits:
- Released a report on its highway construction camera pilot project that found close to 50 per cent of vehicles that passing through the construction zones were in violation of the construction zone speed limit with some vehicles travelling in excess of 110 kilometres per hour in 50 kilometre-per-hour zones;
- Made amendments to the Highway Traffic Act to allow for cameras to be used as a means of increasing compliance with the rules of the road and help improve safety in construction zones and school bus zones;
- Using digital display speed signs on some highways, which is proven to be effective in getting drivers to reduce their speed; and
- Launched NL 511 which provides easy access to our highway driving condition and construction reports as well as highway cameras to make it easier for travellers to plan for safe trips before they travel.
The new distracted driving signs will be installed when summer maintenance activities begin this spring.
“Driving on our highways requires full attention. A vehicle collision caused by distracted and dangerous driving is a collision that could have been prevented. By installing these signs along provincial highways, we will be sending a constant reminder to everyone that we all need to pay attention to the road.”
Honourable Steve Crocker
Minister of Transportation and Works
“Losing a loved one or suffering serious injury because of distracted driving is needless and unnecessary. If we are to be truly successful in ending distracted driving, societal change is necessary. We all have a part to play in instilling a culture of road safety in our province.”
Honourable Sherry Gambin-Walsh
Minister of Service NL
“Nothing is more painful than losing someone in a senseless, preventable automobile crash due to distracted driving. Our husbands, Randy Ralph and Shannon Pittman, lost their lives following a horrific automobile crash caused by a distracted driver. As a province, we must work together to eliminate such actions. These distractions can kill, ruin the lives of those left behind, and destroy the future planned with those killed. Installing distracted driving highway signage will send a very powerful message to drivers. The goal is to reduce distracted driving and save lives. No other life should be lost due to preventable driver inattentiveness.”
Mrs. Sarah Pittman and Mrs. Frankie Ralph
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Transportation and Works