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The fine for distracted driving jumps to $280 from $155 starting March 18

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

Distracted driving is becoming the No. 1 killer on the roads, Ontario Provincial Police say.

Kicking off a new campaign this month, OPP say distracted driving accounted for more deaths last year than impaired or speed-related incidents in crashes they investigated.

Their statistics say 78 people died in distracted driving-related collisions in 2013, compared with 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed-related deaths.

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The distracted driving campaign starts this weekend and runs until March 14, and police say officers will be raising awareness and focusing enforcement on the problem.

Meanwhile, the fine for distracted driving jumps to $280 from $155 starting March 18.

The new amount is comprised of an increased base fine of $225, plus a $50 victim fine surcharge and $5 for court costs.

OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair says along with last year's total of 78 fatalities, 325 other people have died as a result of distracted driving since 2010.

Police are urging drivers to make a commitment to never talk or text while behind the wheel and for passengers to speak up if a driver in their car is using a cellphone or is otherwise distracted.

"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 behaviour," Blair said.

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