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Time to “call people out” for distracted driving

One in five Canadian drivers have had a crash, collision, or near miss because they were distracted while behind the wheel. That’s one of the more alarming stats revealed by Travelers Canada recent Distracted Driving Risk Survey. Additional data suggests Canadians continue this dangerous driving behaviour despite knowing the potentially deadly risks.

The survey was conducted in early April among a nationally representative sample of 1,010 Canadians aged 18-69, balanced and weighted on age, gender, and region. While 77% of respondents said distracted driving is very risky and they take every step possible to avoid it, half of them admit to talking or using a phone while driving.

This is an “alarming” but not totally surprising statistic. Most of us see distracted driving as an everyday occurrence.

The survey also revealed that work-related pressure may be connected to distracted driving. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they answered work-related calls, texts, or emails while driving, citing reasons like dealing with work emergencies (44%), feeling the need to always be available (30%), and worrying that they’ll miss something important (28%).

Almost one-third of drivers admitted to distracted driving that is work-related. When an employer has a [distracted driving] policy in place, 87% of employers said they always or usually comply with it. So, they won’t take a work call or respond to an email or text while driving if their employer has communicated that policy well. The trouble is, only 19% of Canadian companies have a safe driving policy in place.

There are simple and effective ways to reduce the potential for distracted driving. First and foremost, people need to speak up and “stigmatize” distracted driving in the same way as impaired driving. We need to call people out.

The survey found that drivers are more likely to correct their dangerous behaviours when passengers speak up, with 86% of respondents who use a phone while driving saying they would be less likely to do so if a passenger mentioned it. But the survey also found that the likelihood of passengers saying something depends on who is behind the wheel. For example, 35% of Canadians would speak up to a spouse or partner, but only 23% would people call out a friend. The percentages drop dramatically when it comes to work-related connections, where only 7% of respondents would speak up to a co-worker and just 2% would say something to a boss or manager.

Everyone has a role to play in highlighting the dangers of distracted driving. This issue of distracted driving is incredibly important. It needs attention, it needs focus, and we need to collectively change our behaviours.

 

Source: insurancebusinessmag

 

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