FAQ’s and Statistics

Pay Attention to Your Driving

Driving requires your full attention. Below are answers, facts and statistics about distracted driving.

  1. What is distracted driving?

    Distracted driving is the act of operating a vehicle while engaged in activities that are not necessary for driving, or when the driver’s attention is diverted from driving tasks to events or circumstances that are not essential to driving. Distracted driving can also involve non-driving cognitive activity such as being lost in thought, or daydreaming.

  2. What constitutes a driving distraction?

    A driving distraction is any event, circumstance or activity that creates any momentary lapse in driver attention to primary driving tasks. That inattention may be voluntary or involuntary. Distractions reduce the driver’s situational awareness and delay their recognition of information necessary to carry out driving tasks. Distractions impair the speed and accuracy with which the driver responds to key driving information.

  3. Why is texting so much greater of a distraction than others?

    There are four types of distraction – cognitive, visual, manual and auditory. Because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the riskiest distraction.

  4. Which groups most often use an electronic communications device (ECD) while driving?

    • British Columbians are among the worst of Canadian offenders for using electronic devices while driving – a little better than Newfoundland, but notably worse than Ontario drivers according to studies by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA).
    • In BC, pick-up drivers more frequently use an ECD than drivers of cars or mini-vans.
    • Male and female drivers use an ECD with about the same frequency.
    • More drivers under 25 were observed talking or texting on an ECD than any other age group (CCMTA, 2013).
  5. How risky is driving while distracted?

    • In a 2013 survey conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association, nearly 90% of licensed drivers said that talking on a cell phone while driving is a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” threat to their personal safety; about 95% of respondents said that texting, e-mailing or checking social media on a device while driving was a more serious threat to their safety.
    • Drivers engaged in text messaging are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).
    • As passengers, active children are four times more distracting than adults; infants are eight times more distracting than adults (CAA).
    • Talking on a cell phone while driving impairs your driving ability about the same as a blood alcohol content of 0.08. (University of Utah, 2006).
    • Research indicates that, on average, a driver composing a text message takes their eyes off the road and looks at their device 5 times. Those “quick looks” take about 4.6 seconds each, for a total of 23 seconds (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute). At 80 km/hr, that’s over 500 metres!
  6. What are the consequences of distracted driving?

    • Distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal car crashes in BC. From 2008 through 2012, there was an average of 91 deaths each year due to distracted drivers.
    • In 2010, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 104 collision fatalities in British Columbia (RCMP).
    • Each year, driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America.
    • Economic losses caused by traffic collision-related health care costs and lost productivity are at least $10 billion annually - that is about 1% of Canada's GDP! (Government of Canada, 2011).

    According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, 2010),

    • Some form of driver inattention is a contributing factor in 80% of collisions and 65% of near crashes;
    • 16% of fatalities and 20% of MVI-related injuries involved driver distraction;
    • The highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes was in the under-20 age group (16%) followed by those aged 20 to 29 (13%);
    • Drivers aged 30 to 39 were most likely to have been distracted by cell phones (24%) prior to fatal crashes.

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