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It’s Time to Change Our Perception of Distracted Driving

October 17 2017 |
Posted in: NewsSafety |

We’re very fortunate here at Leon’s Auto Body because we really enjoy what we do. There’s nothing more satisfying than having a damaged or rusted car come into our shop and then watch it go out the door looking like new.

But there’s a more serious side to what we do that we wish didn’t exist. While most car accidents are avoidable, we are all only human and accidents happen. But the increase in distracted driving accidents in Ontario and elsewhere causes us great concern.

Like every accident, they’re avoidable, but distracted driving collisions aren’t simply ‘human error’. It’s very frustrating and even upsetting when we get a vehicle in for body repair knowing that all the damage, and any personal injuries it caused, happened because a driver thought that they could text, or eat lunch, while he or she was driving.

The biggest question about distracted driving is why we still do it even though we know the very serious consequences. We told you before about some of the scary distracted-driving data. Numbers that are almost unbelievable.

  • 80% of all car accidents are caused by distracted driving
  • The leading cause of fatal car accidents in Canada is distracted driving
  • 90% of drivers admit to having driven while distracted

The Mystery of Distracted Driving

Drivers, lawmakers and driving experts are at a loss to explain why so many people still drive while distracted, even though they know it’s illegal and can be deadly.

Many drivers feel that, while they know it’s dangerous, they can handle it. Some have chosen to shut out the irrefutable evidence that distracted driving is the worst problem on our roads. Yet others feel that, if they don’t use a hand-held device, they’re not guilty of being distracted. Finally, there are some who think that it just won’t happen to them.

Distracted driving

Distracted Driving is Anything Other than a Total Focus on What You’re Doing

The increase in distracted-driving collisions due to using handheld devices behind the wheel, and the resulting media attention to the problem is a mixed blessing. While we are now all more aware of the seriousness of driving while not paying full attention to what we’re doing, too many drivers feel that using a cellphone is the only distraction they can be guilty of. So, if they only do it once in a while, it’s not so bad.

But there are lots of ways we can be distracted while driving. Most drivers do many of them every day. Here are some of the other things we that take our focus off our driving, and the percentage car accidents caused by the distracted behavior (according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety distracted driving report in the U.S.).

  • Interacting with passengers: 11.7%
  • Talking on a phone: 6.5%
  • Holding something other than a phone: 5.6%
  • Talking/singing/dancing while driving: 4.9%
  • Holding a cellphone: 3.7%
  • Smoking: 3.6%
  • Adjusting car controls like the radio or climate controls: 3.3%
  • Eating: 2.8%
  • Other cellphone use: 1.3%

If there’s anything that these numbers tell us it is that distracted driving is far more than using your cellphone. Perhaps if we change our perception of distracted driving to view it in the same way as we do driving under the influence of alcohol (although distracted driving is much worse) then we’ll finally stop doing it.

Here’s the RCMP’s definition of distracted driving:

“Distracted driving is a form of impaired driving as a driver’s judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road. Distracted driving qualifies as talking on a cell phone, texting, reading (e.g., books, maps, and newspapers), using a GPS, watching videos or movies, eating/drinking, smoking, personal grooming, adjusting the radio/CD and playing extremely loud music. Even talking to passengers and driving while fatigued (mentally and/or physically) can be forms of distracted driving.”

 So, please, if you think that distracted driving is just talking on your phone, please try to understand that it is much more than that. Please try to change your perception of distracted driving. It’s impaired driving and it’s worse than driving when you’re drunk.

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