Distracted driving deaths take No. 1 in Ontario, smartphone-vehicle integration on the rise

By CRM Staff

Toronto, Ontario — March 4, 2014 — Distracted driving has surpassed speed-related and impaired driving as the leading cause of fatalities on Ontario roads, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) says.

In an OPP report the regional police force says a total of 78 drivers died in 2013 stemming from distracted driving-related collisions, eclipsing impaired driving deaths (57) deaths and speed-related deaths (44).

“When you consider the overall impact of these 78 fatalities last year and the 325 other distracted driving victims who have died since 2010, the number of people these irresponsible drivers have had a profound and devestating impact on is in the thousands,” OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair stated in an OPP release.

The OPP plan to launch a formal distracted driving campaign beginning March 8, running until March 14. 2014. The regional police force will additionally focus on enforcing distracted driving laws throughout the period province-wide, coninciding with Ontario’s recent fine increases that will see drivers not paying attention to the road fined $280, up from $155.

“Everyone, from the victims’ families and friends to the police officers who attend these horrific collision scenes and have to notify next-of-kin knows the emotional impact of one life lost to this senseless driving behavior,” says Blair.

Global Volvo-Apple tech alliance forged

The OPP’s release concerning the marked increase in distracted driving deaths on Ontario’s roads comes as smartphone-type technology becomes more prevalent in various models of cars, as well as the recently forged global partnership between Volvo and Apple.

Titled the Apple CarPlay, the new service aims to transform how drivers interact with their vehicles, bringing all of the features of Apple’s product lines to the dashboard, controlled through Volvo’s centre console touch screen display. The first Volvo cars to offer CarPlay will be the company’s XC90 SUV, to be released late 2014.

“iPhone users will feel completely at home in a new Volvo. We have created a wholly-integrated user experience in our large portrait-oriented touch screen that takes the in-car mobile device experience to a new level. That, coupled with the obvious driver safety benefits of an advanced voice control system like Siri, made Apple a perfect match for Volvo,” HÃ¥kan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group, stated in a release.

Apple’s CarPlay will also be released in new Ferrari and Mercedes Benz models.

The interface, specially designed for operation with Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iPods, will take advantage of Apple’s Siri technology to give drivers the option of using voice and touch controls to access various device and on-board functions. 

Other car companies seemingly aren’t far behind, with many low-end entry level cars to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show sporting enchanced interfacing capabilities with smartphones.

Targeted at younger tech-saavy drivers, the lifestyle-driven shift provides a measure of infotainment while driving, in combination with a desire simply to avoid unplugging one’s self from the information superhighway just because individuals happen to be on their vehicles.

The shift comes as Smartphone sales eclipsed $1-billion, composing 55 percent of the mobile phone market share. Entry level tech integration combined with Apple’s latest tech partnerships signal where mobile, hands-free driving is heading as more car companies further improve compatibility with iOS and Android software to bring touch access and voice controls to consumers’ infotainment devices.



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