For several years now, Canadian law enforcement, the government, insurers, personal injury lawyers, motorists and others have been well aware of the danger of injury and death in car accidents caused by distracted driving.
Many of us have written and spoken about distracted driving, often focusing on texting-while-driving as the most dangerous form of this reckless behavior.
The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) says: “While many driver distractions have existed for decades, there is growing concern about the distraction caused by cell phone use either for talking or texting, and the use of PDAs or Blackberries to read and send e-mails. Using such devices while driving reduces the driver’s awareness of their environment to the extent that they are not paying attention to what is happening around them.”
But in its report about a survey of 1,300 Canadians of driving age from across the country in February 2015, State Farm Insurance says, “Overall, survey respondents say they are most guilty of being distracted by things outside of their car, like houses and people, and those over the age of 65 (54 per cent) are the biggest offenders.”
John Bordignon, a spokesman for State Farm, says in the news release, “distracted driving is more than talking on the cell phone, texting or eating; it includes allowing your attention to wander to things away from the road. These distractions can have devastating results, and are completely avoidable.”
Indeed, the CCMTA, in its examples of driver distractions, lists “visual distractions outside your vehicle, such as collisions, police activity, or looking at street signs or billboards.” In addition to using electronic devices, that list also includes:
- reading maps, directions or other material
- grooming (e.g. combing hair, putting on make-up or shaving)
- eating or drinking
- talking with passengers or tending to children or pets.
Which is not to say that cell phones are not a significant driver distraction. According to State Farm, about one third (33 per cent) of respondents acknowledged that they check their cell phone or handheld device once or more while driving.
Other findings of the survey include:
- Drivers aged 35-44 were most likely to admit to texting while driving (16 per cent) followed by those aged 18-34 (15 per cent).
- Among drivers aged 35-44, 21 per cent said that they often eat and drink while driving.
- Respondents aged 35-44 are also most likely to be distracted by passengers / children in their car (21 per cent).
- Seven out of 10 parents (70 per cent) list distracted driving and speeding as their teen’s most common driving errors.
- Respondents under the age of 20 said one of the most common bad habits of one or both parents is driving distracted (23 per cent).
Survey: Distracted Drivers Know They Engage in Reckless Behavior
More distressing, while “30 per cent of respondents indicated the most dangerous thing a person can do on the road is to drive distracted,” 35 per cent of drivers in the survey admit to driving while distracted at some point, State Farm says.
The release says that more than nine out of 10 (93 per cent) respondents think other drivers drive while they are distracted. But, just over half (56 per cent) said that they themselves “rarely” drive while distracted.
In other words, many drivers think they are not distracted when they engage in activities that divert their attention from the road ahead. This is despite a growing number of studies of several years now that say even the few seconds it takes to glance at a text, find the french fry at the bottom of the bag, turn and admonish a child or pet, etc., can significantly increase the risk of a potentially deadly crash.
Canadians in the survey said having been in a distracted driving accident or having received tickets and paid fines “have proven to be the most successful deterrent for reducing distracted driving.” In addition, 58 per cent said increased fines or getting into a collision would make them stop driving while distracted.
As personal injury lawyers here at Klein Lawyers in Vancouver, what we can do about distracted driving is help make sure those who are harmed by distracted drivers obtain the compensation they are due. If you have been in an accident caused by a distracted driver in British Columbia, give us a call today to discuss your ICBC claim.