A recent survey found that over one in four Canadians (26 percent) have checked messages while operating a car in motion and 41 percent of Canadians said they are likely or somewhat likely to check their messages when stopped at a traffic light.
While 84 percent of Canadians acknowledged having a mobile device with them when operating a vehicle, the survey also discovered that 75 percent of respondents feel unsafe as a passenger when a driver is talking on the phone or texting.
"These are very alarming numbers," said Jacob Black from InsuranceHotline.com. "What people fail to realize is the number of accidents and fatalities that are caused by not having your complete attention on the road."
According to the National Collision Database, the agency that collects statistics on motor vehicle collisions throughout Canada, distracted drivers were involved in road incidents that resulted in 32,213 injuries and 310 deaths in 2016. That's more than any other infraction, including impaired driving.
"Distractions cause accidents – it's that simple. You're risking your life, the lives of your passengers and fellow road users when you allow yourself to be distracted as a driver. Canadians must realize that this behavior needs to stop," said Black.
As far as insurance rate increases go for drivers charged with distracted driving, most (65 percent) respondents believed their premiums would increase by up to $249. In fact, distracted drivers will see a 25 percent increase in their premiums. That translates to around a $360 increase in Ontario.
In addition, the legal penalties are strict and will lead to fines, license suspensions, demerit points and even vehicle seizures.
Over 90 percent of respondents (92%) were very or somewhat aware that they would incur a ticket if stopped by police for distracted driving and 60 percent of drivers surveyed believe the penalties for distracted driving should be higher. However, upon learning that 310 Canadians were killed by distracted driving in one year, 44 per cent of survey respondents said they would change their behaviour.
"Use of mobile phones shows no signs of slowing down—Canadians must learn to change their driving habits or our roads will become increasingly dangerous," said Black.
The InsuranceHotline.com Distracted Driving survey was conducted by Forum Research between March 25 to March 26, 2019 and polled 1,095 respondents across Canada between 18 and 65+ years old. Respondents were required to have a driver's licence.