Before cell phones came along, ‘distracted driving’ didn’t have such a high profile. But it’s been happening since the first driver hopped behind the wheel of the first motor car. How many old comedy movies have hilarious scenes, where a driver, distracted by something in the back seat, turns back to the wheel to find he’s now driving along train tracks, or about to drive off a damaged bridge, or is stuck on the back of a bus?
But the statistics on distracted driving in the era of mobile devices are anything but a joke. First, distracted driving is now the number one cause of collisions on Canadian roads, accounting for about 80% of all traffic accidents.
While some actions, like texting, which can lead perpetrators to take both hands from the steering wheel, are more distracting than others, like talking to passengers, they all reduce or remove our attention from driving the car.
There’s also a difference in how much distracted driving is done by different generations. Gen Xers, born from 1965 to 1980, admitted to the most distracted driving, with 95% saying they were guilty of some form of distracted driving. On the other end of the spectrum, the Silent Generation, born, form 1925 to 1945, admitted to the least amount of distracted driving with ‘only’ 83% admitting to some sort of distracted behaviour.
THE SERIOUS DISTRACTED-DRIVING DATA
Again, some distracted driving behaviours are less serious than others. But the worst behaviours either take our concentration entirely off driving, make us physically incapable of controlling the car, or both.
Here are some of the more surprising activities and numbers discovered by an Allstate Insurance Company of Canada survey.
The percentage of both GenX and Millennials who admitted to either texting, sending emails and/or taking photos while behind the wheel. That’s over one-third of the largest chunk of driers on the road who, at least for a moment, were totally unfocused on controlling their car.
ALMOST ONE THIRD
To be exact, 29% of GenXers and 32% of Millennials admitted to actually putting on and taking off clothing while they drove.
47% VERSUS 51%
Overall, 47% of drivers who responded to the Allstate survey said they used a non-hands-free cellphone while driving. That means, for the length of each call, they are driving with diminished concentration – and only one hand on the wheel. 51% admitted to using hands-free devices. The really surprising thing is, even while using a regular cell phone is illegal across the country, almost half of us still talk on the phone while driving.
PERHAPS THE MOST SERIOUS NUMBERS OF ALL?
While 97% of drivers overall have a negative perception of distracted driving, 90% admit to doing it. In other words, we are being a little hypocritical in our attitudes, scoffing when we see other drivers on their cellphones, while giving ourselves the leeway to do the same.