A recent survey from RATESDOTCA reveals that 74 per cent of drivers who report engaging in certain distracted driving behaviours consider them safe practices behind the wheel. Four in ten passengers who noticed their driver engaging in distracted driving did not ask them to stop. That is despite eight in ten passengers saying they are somewhat or very uncomfortable when witnessing their driver texting or calling (up from 76 per cent in 2020 and 75 per cent in 2019). The findings are disconcerting when compared to results from previous years, which show a rising number of respondents (47 per cent in 2021 vs. 40 per cent in 2020) believe distracted driving is the leading cause of motor vehicular traffic deaths compared to 34 per cent who said impaired driving was the leading cause.
“As troubling as it is to discover that a large number of Canadians admit to engaging in distracted driving behaviours, what’s alarming is that they believe these actions are safe. Almost half of Canadians think distracted driving is the leading cause of motor vehicle deaths, and yet surprisingly they are continuing to drive distracted,” said Jameson Berkow, Managing Editor, RATESDOTCA.
According to the survey, Canadians admit to engaging in these distracted behaviours when driving:
- Texting or instant message on a hand-held device with 13 per cent overall, with Alberta drivers reporting the highest rate of this behaviour at 19 per cent and British Columbia having the lowest rate at 7 per cent.
- Eating or drinking coffee/water with 79 per cent overall claiming to engage in this behaviour, and 78 per cent of drivers who do this considering this safe.
- Reaching for an object is claimed by 56 per cent of drivers, with those aged 65 years and older at 41 per cent likely to do this compared to an average of 57 per cent from other age groups.
- Using navigational apps on an unmounted hand-held device at 40 per cent overall and 68 per cent of drivers who do this consider this behaviour safe.
- Making phone calls on a hand-held device at 25 per cent overall, with Quebec drivers at the highest rate at 36 per cent, followed by 23 per cent in Ontario, and Manitoba/Saskatchewan drivers coming in the lowest at 12 per cent likely to do this.
- Watching a video on a hand-held device with 3 per cent overall and 57 per cent of drivers who do this considers it a safe practice.
Disturbingly, one in ten drivers (13 per cent) claim they would object if a passenger asked them to stop the distracted driving behaviour.
“Distracted driving can lead to injury and death, and even if nobody gets hurt it can still lead to serious financial consequences in terms of fines and paying more for car insurance, with a range of 15-25 per cent increase,” said Berkow. “Drivers need to be reminded that they alone are responsible for the safe handling of several thousand pounds of fast-moving metal and for the sake of making a phone call or checking a notification, the consequences could be tragic.”
RATESDOTCA recommends the following tips for drivers and passengers to reduce the threat of distracted driving:
- Become familiar with what constitutes distracted driving – it may surprise many.
- Set your mobile phone to “airplane mode” or put it out of sight so you are not disturbed by it while driving. Traffic lights are not the time to check messages – you are still operating the vehicle, so put the phone away.
- Make a plan in advance to stop safely on your route to check and respond to email, text or phone calls: stick to the plan.
- As a passenger, make it your responsibility to speak up and ask the driver to stop the distracted driving behaviour and concentrate on driving. Suggest that you are not in any hurry and ask them to pull over and then use their device.
- Set your vehicle’s radio or dashboard infotainment system before you shift into drive.
- Snack or enjoy a cup of coffee in advance of your drive. Or do this while parked only.
To review the full findings, visit RATESDOTCA.