Eyes on the Road: Millennials Believe Their Generation is the Most Likely to Drive Distracted

Drivers have a tendency to pass the blame onto others when it comes to many of today’s safety concerns on the road, but in a recent survey from Allstate, millennials seem to be pointing the finger at themselves and their peers as being the generation most likely to drive distracted.

In the survey, 80 per cent of Canadians believe drivers under the age of 34 were the most likely to allow distractions to divert their attention when behind the wheel. This could include anything from talking on the phone or checking text messages to eating to playing with the vehicle’s sound system. For the most part, millennials conceded this perception to be true with 69 per cent believing they are the most distracted generation. The survey was done by Leger and polled almost two thousand people from across the country in early February 2018.

“When faced with tight schedules and temptation from smartphone notifications, drivers may find it hard to resist the urge to grab a quick bite at the wheel or sneak a peek at their devices,” said Ryan Michel, president and CEO of Allstate Insurance Company of Canada in a statement. “The data shows younger drivers are honest in recognizing the tendencies of their own peer group – but that self-awareness isn't necessarily leading to changes in risky behaviour.”

What is viewed as a distraction?

It’s universally accepted across the country that mobile devices and grooming are big distractors (94 and 93 per cent), but many people also feel looking at roadside distractions is a problem (77 percent) as is eating (76 per cent).

“Our aim is to make Canadians more aware of their behaviours and actions on the road. This is an important step to help keep our focus in the right place and our streets safe,” says Michel.

Canadians also felt that using a GPS/navigation system was distracting (69 per cent), while 73 per cent of Canadians felt personal stressors could result in inattentive driving.

Millennials also think they are the exception to the rule

While the new Allstate survey shows millennials are quick to say they are the most distracted generation while driving, it also found they’re less likely to believe that certain behaviours will make them lose their focus.

For example, millennials were less likely to say playing with the sound system was a distractor (59 per cent vs 68 per cent, nationally) or that drinking a beverage was problematic (58 per cent vs 68 per cent).

Research compiled from CAA however, shows that distractors of all types play a huge role in the event an accident. About 80 per cent of collisions and 65 per cent of near misses are reported to have some form of driver inattention as a contributing factor. In another CAA survey, 83 per cent of Canadians said texting while driving is a bigger problem today than three years ago.

As the provinces increase fines, Canadians look to other answers

Police across the country are hosting distracted driving blitzes to create awareness about the risks, as well as catch more drivers in the act. Canadians, however, may not feel more enforcement is the sole answer to stopping the distracted driving problem. A survey by Aviva last September showed 78 per cent of people think a technology solution is the way to reduce the number of distracted drivers and 73 per cent said they’d be on board with using anti-texting technology. This is a comparison to only 48 per cent of people thinking fines, demerits and the prospect of increased auto insurance premiums are a good enough deterrent.