Distracted driving is a growing concern on the roads. Last year in Ontario, the number of fatalities resulting from some form of distracted driving (78) exceeded deaths caused by impaired driving (57), and speeding (44). The Ontario government predicts this will be standard by 2016.
Every province has some form of distracted driving legislation, and it's against the law for good reason. Studies have found that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers. Driver distraction has also been found to pay a role in about four million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year.
Yet a 2012 study conducted by KANETIX and Leger Marketing found that the majority of Canadians admit to having at least one bad habit at the wheel. Approximately eight in 10 Canadian motorists confess to regularly eating, speeding, talking or text messaging, following too closely, and/or routinely failing to signal.
Momentary distractions may seem innocent enough, but studies indicate that just seconds of inattention dramatically increases the potential for accidents. By following these simple tips and precautions, you can help reduce that risk of distracted driving in Canada and ensure you arrive at your destination safely.
Know where you are going
Thanks to technology, it's never been easier for drivers to find their destinations. However, fiddling with devices or looking down at a map can increase the risk of an accident. Pre-program your GPS system before you leave home, and remember to allow yourself plenty of travel time to get where you're going.
Set phones to silent or hands-free
Mobile phones can be an important tool in the event you become stranded, are involved in an accident, or need to contact emergency services. However, text message alerts and calls are distracting when driving-and using mobile devices while on the road is illegal in Canada. Set your phone to silent so as not to distract your attention from the road, or if absolutely necessary make use of hands-free technologies. If you must make a call or send a text, pull over to a safe location first.
Take advantage of pre-set controls
For many drivers, car rides are incomplete without a radio, but constantly flipping stations can be distracting. Before your next ride, pre-set the radio to stations you most frequently listen to. This will allow the option of quickly changing stations without a creating a distraction. Alternatively, use an mp3 player to set it and forget it.
Secure all pets
Dogs and cats can make for great travelling companions, but they can be a liability if they roam free. Secure your pets to ensure they do not get in the way of driving or prevent you from seeing the road. In some provinces, pets are considered illegal under distracted driving provisions if they are found to block the driver from accessing vehicle controls, impede the driver's view, or prevent the safe operation of the vehicle.
Remember, the car is not your kitchen
Thirty-nine per cent of Canadians admit to eating behind the wheel. Although this is not illegal, it's not always safe. Eat before you hit the road, and if you get hungry while driving it's best to pull over to a rest stop or somewhere safe to grab a bite. If you must eat in the car, choose a snack that's sensible and doesn't require you to take your focus off the road.
Also, the car is not your bathroom
Although only three per cent of Canadians admitted to putting on makeup while driving, this distracted driving habit is beginning to be taken more seriously. In Alberta, for example, "personal grooming like combing your hair, applying makeup or brushing your teeth" is not allowed under the province's distracted driving legislation. Drivers caught partaking in personal grooming habits are subject to fines of $172.
Make sure your children are entertained
Babies and children are natural distractions, with a dropped toy or a cry for help taking parents' attention and eyes away from the road. Thankfully, with a little pre-trip planning you can prevent your children from becoming distractions, helping to ensure a safe ride for you and your precious passengers. Here are 10 tips to make sure your children are happy and entertained on the road, all while helping you to minimize driver distraction.
Follow basic driving techniques
When it comes to driving, go back to the basics. Keep both hands on the wheel at all times, stop at rest stops frequently (especially after long periods of nonstop travel), keep your focus on the road and on vehicles around you at all times, and adjust traffic mirrors before starting the vehicle. These are just a few of the basic driving instructions every motorist should be familiar with and exercising at all times.
Distracted driving has serious consequences. Paying attention to what is happening around you and avoiding distractions and bad driving habits not only makes the roads safer for you and your passengers, but also for everyone else around you.
Learn more about the Kanetix.ca bad habit survey results:
- Bad Behaviour: Confessions of a Canadian driver
- Bad Behaviour: Confessions of a perfect driver
- Bad Behaviour: Confessions of a speeder
- Bad Behaviour: Confessions of a single driver (and their married counterparts)
- Bad Behaviour: Confessions from the 100K club
- Infographic: The bad habits of Canadian drivers who drive distracted
- Distracted Driving Statistics: The raw data--driving distractions statistics
- Press release: Kanetix.ca survey reveals eight out of 10 Canadian drivers confess to a bad driving habit