Despite stricter penalties and new technology to help curb the problem of distracted driving, many Canadian drivers still can't ignore their cellphones and other distractions while behind the wheel.
Results from the latest Desjardins national survey reveal that 53% of Canadians admit to having driven distracted by their cellphones at least once; up from 38% last year. More are also aware of how dangerous distracted driving is, with 32% (27% in 2018) of respondents saying it's the riskiest driving behaviour, that's just behind alcohol-impaired driving at 35% (37% in 2018).
Still, Canadians seem to believe the problem lies with other drivers. Ninety-three percent of drivers think they rarely or never drive distracted by a cellphone, but at the same time, 84% claim they often or always see others driving distracted by cellphones.
"It's clear that distracted driving remains a serious road safety risk," said Denis Dubois, President and Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins General Insurance Group.
"It's important to continue to bring awareness to this serious issue as we need to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving. Stricter penalties and technology help but distracted driving is preventable and changing our behaviours will save lives."
Research from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), shows 1 in 4 fatal crashes in Canada involves distraction. Even with increasing fines, demerit points and police ramping up efforts to combat the issue, there were still over 350 people killed in road crashes involving distraction in 2015 alone.
"It's not just the drivers who are at risk, distracted driving has deadly impacts on passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and other road users", says Robyn Robertson, President and Chief Executive Officer of TIRF. "We need a commitment from all Canadians to be attentive on the road and to speak up with friends, family and co-workers to reinforce safe driving habits."