A new study by CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) found that while an “overwhelming majority” of Ontario drivers are aware of how serious the distracted driving problem is, many are still unaware that they’re contributing to the problem.
The research, conducted online by Campaign Research from January 10-14, 2019, surveyed 1,504 Ontario residents. Of that number, 91% said that distracted driving in the province has worsened.
Some 32% of the survey’s participants identified themselves as distracted drivers. But when distracted driving was defined to participants, that number jumped to 43%.
Notably, 45% said that they often see others holding a mobile phone while driving. However, only 3% of respondents admitted to using their phones while behind the wheel.
"Distracted driving continues to be a challenge on Ontario's roads, nearly a decade after the initial legislation banning handheld devices was introduced," commented CAA SCO manager of government relations Elliott Silverstein. "There continues to be a general lack of understanding by many drivers who don't realize that distracted driving is more than just holding your phone. It's anything that diverts your attention away from the road, whether it be your phone, food or the radio."
The survey found that the group of motorists most likely to commit distracted driving violations are highway drivers (58%), followed by those who commute 90 minutes or more (54%), and drivers aged 25-34 (59%).
When asked to justify their behaviour, distracted drivers gave the following reasons:
- 41% said they needed to use their phones in case of an emergency
- 41% said they used their phones while stopped at a red light
- 36% said they used their phones while stuck in traffic
"There is no justification for distracted driving," said Silverstein. "A moment of distraction can have dangerous, if not fatal consequences. Just because your vehicle isn't in motion doesn't mean you can take your eyes off the road."