This is the Most Dangerous Thing You Can Do Behind the Wheel...According to Research

There are some behaviours behind the wheel that can obviously get you into a wreck fast. Driving under the influence and distracted driving are major no-nos that just about everyone understands can have devastating consequences. But there other behaviours associated with aggressive driving that can also lead to serious collisions, which many drivers may not recognize as being just as risky and potentially deadly.

28 Million Trips Studied

A recent study by the University of Waterloo analyzed driving data recorded from about 28 million trips to see which bad driving habits were most likely to lead to an accident. Data was provided by insurance companies in Ontario and Texas whose customers use in-vehicle recorders that measure speed and movement.

What did the study find to be the most dangerous aggressive driving behaviour?

The researchers found that speeding was the single biggest predictor of car crashes seen in the data. The researchers could not establish any statistically significant links to the other behaviours they looked at, including hard braking, hard acceleration, and hard cornering - speeding was the overwhelming indicator.

It's important to note that the data was unable to look at distracted driving, impaired driving or other dangerous driving behaviour such as tailgating or abrupt lane changes. This study focused solely on data collected via a car's OBD2 port - which records throttle position, speed, brake position, gear position, and sometimes data from a car's onboard stability control systems.


Stefan Steiner, a statistics professor at Waterloo, said that the findings could help the insurance industry provide fairer prices to consumers who opt to include a telematics drive recorder in their vehicle. A few insurance companies in Canada and the U.S. provide this option, known as usage-based insurance. Insurance companies use the data to base premiums on driving habits instead of calculating costs purely based on age and location.

"For insurance companies using this telematics data to assess who is a good risk and who isn't, our suggestion based on the data is to look at speed, at people driving too fast," Steiner said in a statement.

At the moment, however, regulations in Canada say telematics can only be used to offer discounts to good drivers - the data cannot be used to increase premiums.

Another Reason to Stop Speeding

If increasing the likelihood of getting into an accident isn't enough to get you to slow down, here is another reason: too many speeding tickets or major infractions can cause your insurance rates to go up, and that is on top of any fines that you incur.

How much your rates go up, of course, will vary from insurer to insurer. A single minor ticket (up to 15 km/h over the limit) may not trigger a big increase or any change to your premiums at all. However, repeated speeding tickets could end up getting you flagged by insurance companies as a high-risk driver, which means you have to obtain specialty insurance that is two to three times more expensive than standard insurance.

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Tips for Slowing Down

Now that you know that speeding is both dangerous and costly, don't you think it is about time you start sticking to the posted limit? If you suffer from chronic lead foot, here are a few tips to help you stay safe and out of trouble:

  • Leave earlier. If you always seem to be late, make a point to leave 15, 20 or even 30 minutes earlier than you need to. Set the clocks in your house forward a few minutes or set reminders on your phone to get ready way before it is time to leave.
  • Keep an eye on the speedometer. Remember to constantly check your speed. It is easy to get caught up in the flow of speeding traffic and not realize how fast you are going.
  • Download an app. Waze is a popular navigation app that displays the current speed limit and can alert you if you exceed it - remember to only use Waze on hard-mounted devices and to set your course before you begin driving. Using a smartphone while driving is both dangerous and illegal.
  • Use cruise control. Learn how to use your cruise control function and set it to the posted speed limit, especially on long highway drives.

If speeding tickets have you searching for a better rate, or you are curious about usage-based insurance options, check out Kanetix.ca to compare the best car insurance prices from different insurers all in one place.

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