Distracted driving – many Ontarians take risks despite understanding the danger

Survey finds disconnect between thought and action

Distracted driving – many Ontarians take risks despite understanding the danger

Insurance News

By Mika Pangilinan

There is a dissonance between thought and action when it comes to safe driving practices in Ontario, a recent survey conducted by RATESDOTCA has found.

The survey showed that 57% of Ontarians consider distracted driving the “greatest threat to road safety,” yet 24% still engage in distracting behaviors while driving.

Non-electronic behaviors were found to be the most common distractions, with 60% of respondents admitting to eating or drinking while driving, and 52% revealing that they talk to passengers.

By contrast, fewer respondents reported using electronic devices while driving, with only 21% admitting to checking their phone for messages and 6% saying they were likely to send a test message.

The likelihood of a driver engaging in distracted behaviors appears to be linked to whether they believe the act is safe, the survey found.

For example, respondents aged 35-49 were the most likely to check messages while driving at 7%. At the same time, 16% of the group believed this was a safe behavior.

Similarly, respondents aged 50-65 were the most likely to eat or drink while driving at 21%, just as 16% thought it was safe to do so.

The survey also highlighted a knowledge gap around what constitutes distracted driving. While a vast majority of respondents recognized that using a handheld device while driving was dangerous, fewer considered common behaviours such as reaching for an object to be distracted driving.

Distracted driving can result in significant penalties, including fines, demerit points, license suspension, and even jail time, the report by RATESDOTCA warned. Moreover, any conviction resulting from distracted driving will also impact car insurance rates.

Outside Ontario, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) recently launched an education and enforcement campaign to combat distracted driving.

The campaign features “Cell Watch” deployments in communities across the province to remind drivers to avoid using their phones while driving, coupled with radio, digital, and social media advertising.

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