The Dangers of Distracted Driving
We’ve probably all done it at some point in our driving lives, whether we’ve been chowing down on a quick burger, switching radio stations or playing referee to a couple of battling siblings while we struggle to keep one eye on the road ahead. It’s called distracted driving and it’s a serious enough issue that the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators even has a Distracted Driving Subcommittee dedicated to the problem.
The CCMTA defines distracted driving as “the diversion of attention from driving, as a result of the driver focusing on a non-driving object, activity, event or person. This diversion reduces awareness, decision-making or performance leading to increased risk of driver error, near-crashes or crashes. The diversion of attention is not attributable to a medical condition, alcohol/drug use and/or fatigue.”
Driving distractions include:
- Use of electronic devices (GPS, stereo, cell phones, etc.)
- Reading maps or other material
- Eating or drinking
- Talking with passengers
- Tending to pets or children
- Outside visual distractions (collisions, police activity, etc.)
Interestingly, a study in Virgina in 2006 discovered that eyes-off-the-road distractions of more than two seconds significantly increased the risk of crashes and near crashes. The study revealed that secondary task distractions like cell phone use, contributed to a 22% increase in crashes and near-crashes.
So how big is the issue here in Canada?
Consider that a 2006 Canadian survey found that 37% of respondents admitted to having used a cell phone while driving in the previous 7 days and that 55% of 16-34 year-old respondents admitted to using cell phones while driving over the same period, distracted driving is a serious road safety issue for Canadians.
While it’s true that since 2006 the numbers of people using hand held devices while driving has decreased here in Canada, it’s important to remember that cell phones are only one of the distractions blamed for drive distraction caused crashes.
As driving becomes second nature, we sometimes forget the incredible responsibility we take on when we get behind the wheel.
Every day at Pihl Law Corporation, we help the victims of motor vehicle crashes.
The devastating consequences that can result from reaching for a CD, checking a text message or trying to pacify an excited canine passenger while driving, are powerful reminders to all of us that a careless, misplaced second or two can lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering.