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The OPP say 69 people died in road crashes where driver distraction was a factor last year.

That compares to 61 speed-related deaths, 51 seat belt-related deaths and 45 alcohol/drug-related deaths.

The OPP says road users need to be aware how serious a threat distracted drivers are to their safety.

The force says that each year for the past three years, officers have laid about 20,000 distracted driving charges throughout the province _ more than double the number of impaired driving charges laid over the same

period.

In Ontario it is illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices while driving.