Distracted Driving Campaign Starts March 8 and so does March Break: Be safe!

OPP Asking for Public’s Help with Distracted Driving Campaign starting March 8 and a reminder: It’s March Break!

Updated March 7, 11am: The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reminding the public that the annual school Spring Break starts today in many of our areas.

Chief Superintendent John Tod, Regional Commander of the OPP Central Region is reminding the public that with March Break starting, “there will be many children playing in areas during the day that we are not used to seeing them. Please watch for children at all times.”.

Outdoor enthusiasts are also being cautioned to use caution as milder weather is in the forecast and this will no doubt compromise the quality of snow and ice conditions. “Although winter is still very much upon us, safety and planning ahead should be always an important component of any outdoor activity in the coming days and weeks as snow and ice conditions can start to change hourly,” adds Tod.

And drivers, remember that the OPP’s Distracted Driving Campaign is continuing and that Distracted Driving has become the number one factor in motor vehicle related collision deaths. Inspector Dom Beckett, Manager of the OPP Central Region Traffic and Marine Unit is asking motorists to “please keep your eyes and attention focused on the road; that is where it needs to be ALL the time. Distracted driving related deaths can be reduced if drivers change their behaviour and pledge to always reach for safety and not for their phone”.

OPP Distracted Driving Campaign starts March 8

Release from OPP Posted Mar. 3, 10.38am: Irresponsible driver behaviour has the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) concerned about the fate of many road users this year as officers prepare to launch their next campaign against Distracted Driving (Mar 8-14).

2013: Distracted driving caused more deaths than impaired and speeding drivers

In 2013, distracted driving fatalities surpassed both impaired and speed related fatalities in fatal motor vehicle collisions investigated by the OPP.  A total of 78 persons died in distracted driving related collisions compared to 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed related deaths last year.

“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 devastating impact on is in the thousands,” said OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

“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 trickles down to so many people who, sadly, through experience, know how badly this behaviour needs to stop,” he added.

The OPP recognizes that the only way to stop people from dying in distracted driving related collisions is to raise awareness of how serious the problem is and to have everyone make a firm, lifelong commitment to helping the police and safety partners eliminate it altogether.  According to the OPP, it can be done.

“Over and above every driver pledging to never text or talk on the phone, pledge to be a good passenger and speak up if the driver in your car is using his/her phone or engaged in other forms of distraction.  Pledge to regularly encourage your friends and family to not be distracted while driving,” said OPP Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander of the Highway Safety Division. “Even though our campaign only runs one week, make this a year-round commitment because it is a fail proof way to help us eliminate the tragic deaths that occur every year because of distracted drivers,” added Bell

March 18: fines jump to $280

The OPP is reminding motorists that on March 18, 2014 the current distracted driving fine of $155 will jump to $280 (this includes the increased $225 fine plus a $50 victim fine surcharge and $5 court cost).

The OPP’s Distracted Driving Campaign runs from Saturday, March 8 to Friday, March 14, 2014.  During that time, the OPP will be doing its part to eliminate the threat of distracted driving through its own awareness raising efforts and focused enforcement of distracted driving laws throughout the province.

The OPP is asking Ontarians to show their support during this important campaign.  Go to the OPP’s Facebook page and/or follow them on Twitter and let them know how you plan on helping to eliminate distracted driving on Ontario roads. The OPP will highlight some of your entries in a campaign wrap-up news release following the campaign.

Muskoka Olympian Dara Howell takes Gold in slopestyle

Dara brings home the Gold, Kim Lamarre, Bronze, in slopestyle event: Their wins give Canada even greater lead at Sochi

February 11: 8am: “I think that’s the best run I’ve ever done,” an ecstatic Dara Howell told reporters after her winning slopestyle run in the finals, held 4am this morning. Over a Dara Howell Feb 11hundred people gathered at the Muskoka Ski Club at Hidden Valley Highlands ski area to watch Dara, including many generations and relatives of the Howell family. Dara posted an 88.8 on her first run in the semi finals that started at 1 am and in her final run, she scored at 94.2

What’s Up Muskoka reporter Chris Occhuizzi was there with the emotional crowd. Read his account here in The Toronto Sun

Not only are Muskokans swelling with pride and Canada thrilled to have such a strong lead now in the overall media count, there are many other reasons why Dara’s win is so poignant and resonates across the Canada and the world of freestyle skiing. Sarah Burke of Squamish, B.C. trailblazed the sport of freestyle skiing and fought long and hard to have the event included in the Olympic Winter Games. She was a favourite to win gold at these games but her dream was cut short when she died in 2012 after a training accident in Utah. Skiiers who wanted to honour Burke by wearing Sarah Burke stickers on their helmets were told by the International Olympic Committee that the stickers would not be tolerated as they would be considered a political statement. Burke’s mother, Jan Phelan, was at the Sochi slopestyle site to see Burke’s legacy in action.

In an interview with CBC after today’s win by Dara, Huntsville’s hometown girl spoke about Burke:  “Earlier this week I said I wish a Canadian would win a gold medal, and it would be for Sarah. To be that person, I didn’t expect it and you work so hard for it, it’s truly amazing. I know she would be proud and happy and I just want to keep pushing this sport and pushing myself and doing what I love to do and I know she would honour that.”

Dara Howell has started off an exciting and historic day for women in sport. As well as the first slopestyle event, the first women’s ski jump competition also takes place in Sochi today.

ORIGINAL POST January 29, 2014: Midnight start won’t stop Huntsville from cheering on Dara Howell

Olympic cheerfest starts Feb. 10 at Midnight at Hidden Valley; Dara’s slopestyle events begin at 1am

Posted January 20, 5:40pm:  It’s not often we get a hometown girl realizing Olympic dreams and we can all cheer on slopestyler Dara Howell from the comfort of the Muskoka Ski Club on February 10.

The only catch is that her freestyle ski event will be happening midnight our time. So grab a nap and some java and join the crowd at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area to cheer this talented 19-year-old on. The ski area has issued an invitation for those who want to join them in watching Dara make her bid for Olympic Gold in real-time.

Schedule of Dara’s Olympic Events:

Slopestyle, freestyle skiing, Muskoka, news about Muskoka, Dara Howell
Dara Howell of Huntsville competing in Olympic Slopestyle event
  • Ladies’ Slopestyle Qualifiers start at 1:00 a.m.
  • Ladies’ Slopestyle Finals start at 4:00 a.m.

Local ‘Cheer Dara On’ Details:

  • This is a FREE family-friendly event.
  • Time: From midnight February 10 to 5am February 11.
  • Where: Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, Members’ Lounge
  • What: CBC Olympic coverage will be on the big screen; there will be activities for kids (make a sign to cheer on Dara!), and complimentary snacks. A cash bar will also be available for a limited time.

RSVP not required, but if you plan to come, organizers ask that you please join our Facebook event page by clicking here (or email dawn@skihiddenvalley.ca if not on Facebook).

Organizers suggest you wear a Dara Howell shirt (available at Algonquin Outfitters), and sport Olympic colours (red, black & white!) and/or Olympic mitts to show your support.

Photo provided by Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area and Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.