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About Distracted Driving

In this day and age people tend to multi-task everything, from reading while walking to eating while working. What happens when you multi-task while operating a motor vehicle? How much are you missing when you’re distracted from the primary task of driving?



Distracted Driving Statistics

The Canadian Automobile Association has displayed some alarming statistics:

  • Cell phones are one of the most common distractions for drivers. Drivers engaged in text messaging on a cellular phone are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2010)
  • 84% of distracted-driving-related fatalities in the US were tied to the general classification of carelessness or inattentiveness (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009)
  • 80% of collisions and 65% of near crashes have some form of driver inattention as contributing factors (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010)
  • Distracted drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers (Alberta Transportation, 2011)
  • Children are four times more distracting than adults as passengers, and infants are eight times more distracting than adults as passengers
  • Driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year
  • Economic losses caused by traffic collision-related health care costs and lost productivity are at least $10 billion annually. That's about 1% of Canada's GDP! (Government of Canada)
  • Economic losses caused by traffic collision-related health care costs and lost productivity are at least $10 billion annually. That's about 1% of Canada's GDP! (Government of Canada)
  • In 2010, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 104 collision fatalities in British Columbia (RCMP)
  • International research shows that 20% to 30% of all collisions involve driver distraction (Alberta Transportation, 2011)

Common Distractions

  • Passengers and conversation
  • Smoking
  • Eating and drinking
  • Communication devices
  • Reading street signs and advertising
  • Navigation systems
  • Personal grooming
  • Adjusting vehicle stereo

Common Outside Vehicle Distractions

  • Bad driver behavior
  • Pedestrians
  • Road construction
  • Other vehicles and cyclists
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Collision scenes

Penalty in Ontario

If you endanger others because of any distraction, including both hand-held and hands-free devices, you can also be charged with careless driving. If convicted, you will automatically receive:

  • six demerit points
  • fines up to $2,000 and/or
  • a jail term of six months
  • up to two-year license suspension

You can even be charged with dangerous driving (a criminal offence), with jail terms of up to five years.

Tips to Avoid Distractions

  • Use your cell phone only when you're parked, or have a passenger take the call.
  • Let calls go to voicemail.
  • Turn off your cell phone before you start driving.
  • Identify and preset your vehicle's climate control, radio and CD player.
  • Plan your route and set your GPS before you leave.
  • When you're hungry or thirsty, take a break. Don't eat or drink while you drive.
  • When tired, rest at the nearest parking lot or rest stop.
  • Avoid other distractions like reading maps, grooming activities and tending to children and pets.