Toronto, Ontario – The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) has released findings that show speaking on a cell phone while driving significantly increases the risk of collision. Ontario’s doctors want the provincial government to take action to protect the lives of all drivers and passengers.

“The evidence is clear that driving while using a mobile phone is dangerous to the driver, their passengers and others on or near the roadway,” said Dr. Ken Arnold, OMA president. “Doctors know all too well the consequences of driving while distracted, and it’s time that the right steps are taken to ensure the safety of all Ontarians.”

Government initiatives to curtail the use of cell phones while driving have been implemented in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, a number of U.S. states, Australia, and much of Europe.

The OMA found evidence that cell phone use, whether hand-held or hands-free, has a significant impact on cognitive functions, visual concentration, and reaction time. The research found that cell phone use led to a large reduction in the driver’s functional field of view; changed average driving speed; decreased safe distance between vehicles; slowed brake reaction time; slowed response time to traffic light changes; resulted in a 15 per cent increase in non-response to stoplights; slowed braking by 18 per cent; slowed the time it takes to come back up to speed by 17 per cent; reduced visual monitoring of mirrors and instruments; and resulted in fewer inspection glances at traffic lights.

“Too many drivers treat talking on a phone while driving as a harmless practice,” Dr. Arnold said. “It’s not an easy prescription to give, but this practice has to be curtailed.”

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