It’s time to pay attention – there is a new leading cause of car accidents and it’s inflating insurance premiums for drivers across the country. Need a clue? Consider the following statistics: the Government of Ontario reports that someone is injured in a distracted driving incident every half hour. The Insurance Bureau of Canada shares that in almost 80 percent of accidents, drivers were distracted for up to three seconds before the collision. And texting increases the odds of being in an accident by 23 percent. All these statistics add up to a scary reality – distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents in Canada.
Are you distracted?
The RCMP defines distracted driving as a form of impaired driving, because your judgement is compromised when you’re not fully focused on the road. There are a number of things that can distract you as a driver: using your cell phone to make calls, watch videos, check directions or text; listening to very loud music; applying make-up; and eating and drinking – just to name a few.
Some of these distractions might seem like harmless, split-second activities, but consider this: taking your eyes of the road for just over four seconds, while driving 90 kilometres an hour on the highway, is the equivalent to driving the full length of a football field – blind.
The sky-high cost of checking your phone
The cost of distracted driving is high. Of course, the most tragic consequence is the loss of life, with the sad reality that the number of fatalities linked to distracted driving is on the rise. Because of this, preventing distracted driving is becoming a top priority of law enforcement officials, with new and tough laws being implemented in provinces across Canada.
You might think you’re being stealthy while you’re quickly checking your phone in the car, but police report that catching distracted drivers is actually very easy – they are distracted, after all. A distracted driving can sky rocket how much you’re paying for car insurance.
The fines for distracted driving vary by province, but every province is looking to increase the penalty for this common offence. Provincial legislatures in British Columbia and Manitoba are both looking to crack down on distracted drivers, and the Government of Ontario has implemented the toughest laws yet, introducing a $50,000 fine for careless driving causing death.
If you’re charged with distracted driving, you’ll have more to worry about than just the fine. A recent article in the Globe and Mail breaks down the increasing cost of distracted driving, noting that a distracted driving charge could increase your insurance premium by up to 10 percent. And even though demerit points impact your license for two years, they will increase your insurance for three. In the case of a careless driving charge, you risk a license suspension and could face a doubling of your insurance payments.
A quick and easy solution is to put your somewhere you can’t see it while driving. Studies have shown that the ‘mere presence’ of your smartphone impairs your ability to perform on tasks that require attention. Stick your phone in the glove compartment and only get it out when you are parked somewhere safe. If notifications distract you, put your phone on silent for the duration of the trip and enjoy a mini digital detox.
While driving, use hands-free devices if you absolutely need to make a call or follow directions. Keep your calls short, though. Unlike talking to a passenger in your car, the person on the other end of the line doesn’t know when you might need a few minutes of silence to concentrate.
Although your navigation system is helpful when you’re driving to a new location, it’s best to plan your route in advance, so you have a good idea of where you’re going. This will help you keep your eyes on the road, and not glued to your GSP.
It’s easier said than done, but schedule enough time before you leave your house so you can eat, put on your make-up, or take care of any other personal matters that will distract you on the road.
When you’re a passenger in the car, help the driver follow these same rules. Act as the navigator so the driver doesn’t need to consult a map, and keep the activity level in the car to a minimum – especially if you’re riding with a young driver.
The consequences for distracted driving are too high. Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid an accident, a distracted driving charge will hit your wallet and impact your driving record.
About the Author
Ari Rush is the President of Rush Ventures, a Toronto SEO and digital marketing agency. His previous marketing technology company has helped over 1,500 clients generate online traffic. He has also founded an online telecommunications firm, which he later sold to a private equity group. His public lectures range from Ryerson University to BizLaunch, both well known in North America.