Twenty-one percent of fatal collisions are attributed to cell phone and device use while driving, the Safety Council of Canada stated at the beginning of Safe Driving Week, which runs from Dec. 1 to 7.
More than 27 per cent of serious injury vehicle collisions have the exact causation.
The Prince Rupert RCMP has issued more than 297 driving violation tickets in 2021, with many more warnings issues, Const. Brody Hemrich media relations for the detachment said, Nov. 30.
“There are so many distractions that are available to us; from cell phones, coffee or food, even with other people in our vehicles. It’s imperative that attention is kept on the road, constantly scanning for potential hazards as things can change in an instant,” the officer said.
Technology has made the task of driving easier in many ways, Gareth Jones, president and CEO of the Canada Safety Council (CSC), said in a joint media release with the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) on Nov. 30.
“Advances like rear-view cameras and collision avoidance systems serve as support mechanisms to keep us protected. But when technology pulls our attention away from the road, we are taking on risk and need to carefully consider how and when technology is used,” Jones said.
The unexpected can happen in moments, meaning that even a second of extra reaction time can differentiate between an avoided collision and a potential tragedy, CSC and IBAC stated.
“You can’t watch the road and check your smartphone at the same time. Even a quick glance can lead to a costly collision,” Peter Braid, CEO of IBAC, said. “The stakes are high – death, injury, property damage, fines and rising insurance premiums. That’s why [we are] raising the alarm — it’s not safe to multi-task when driving.”
Distracted driving is the number one threat Canadians view as the greatest danger to their personal safety while on the road, a 2018 CAA survey stated. Despite the survey results, a 2019 survey by Think Insure indicated that while most respondents agreed to the dangers, 35 per cent admitted to still texting and driving.
When your attention is not entirely on the road, the impacts are numerous stated the CSC, such as less visual scanning of your surroundings, reduced opportunities to identify visual cues such as signage, lane positioning, turn signals, less time to react to your surroundings, and a reduction in critical brain resources needed to assess the road ahead.
Hemrich said while some distractions may seem minor, they can cause major issues.
“A trend that I have noticed is a lot of people failing to signal while making a turn or a lane change or even turning into the incorrect lane. While all these seem quite trivial, they can potentially cause collisions with other vehicles if others on the road don’t know what your intentions are.”
With the holiday season upon us, a clear focus is needed to avoid distracted and impaired driving.
“The RCMP always wants to ensure that everyone is alert while driving,” Hemrich said.
“The public can expect us to conduct Check Stops to enforce different provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, as well as to look for impaired drivers at any time of the day or night throughout the year.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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