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Distracted Driving Is a Threat to Road Safety: How to Stop It in Its Tracks

By now, Canadians are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, yet countless drivers continue to drive while distracted every day. It’s clear that many drivers still do not take distracted driving as seriously as they should. Approximately 3 out 4 Canadian drivers admit to driving while distracted.

Think about that statistic for a minute. If 4 cars pull up to a 4-way stop, this means that 3 of the 4 drivers could be distracted, creating a potentially dangerous situation. This does not even take into account other factors on or around roadways such as cyclists and pedestrians.

We are creatures of habit, and we need to break the habit of distracted driving to overcome this driving issue. Distracted driving is one of the most important road safety issues across Canada, and gaining an understanding of the current law is a good starting point to changing behaviours.

Image of a distracted driver using a cell phone.

What Is Distracted Driving?

In a nutshell, distracted driving is any action, activity or disturbance that takes a driver's attention away from focusing on driving. According to the R​oyal Canadian Mounted Police,​ “d​istracted driving is a form of impaired driving, as a driver's judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road.”

Currently in Canada, distracted driving laws vary from province to province. Nunavut is the only region in Canada that does not have a distracted driving law in place, while fines in other provinces and territories range from as low as $100 and 3 demerit points in The Northwest Territories to up to $400 and 3 demerit points in Prince Edward Island.

Which Actions Are Considered Distracted Driving?

In general, driving distractions can be categorized into three broad types:

  1. Inside the car distractions:​ Texting, talking, reading, eating, GPS, grooming, children and pets
  2. Outside the car distractions:​ Accidents, emergency vehicles, pedestrians, construction, billboards
  3. Driver-specific distractions:​ Fatigue and illness, daydreaming, conversations with other passengers, physical/mental well-being

Stop Distracted Driving in Its Tracks

Making a few subtle changes in your approach to driving can make a big difference. Stopping distracted driving starts with each driver individually. If every driver makes a conscious effort to stop driving while distracted, together we as Canadians can collectively make our roads safer.

Here are 10 ways to help break the habit of distracted driving:

  1. Make a pledge to stop driving while distracted.
  2. Get involved in awareness campaigns.
  3. Talk to your kids and new teen drivers about the dangers.
  4. Be an advocate, even if you are a passenger.
  5. Turn off your phone before you get into the car. Use hands free and Bluetoothtechnology.
  6. Don’t get into deep conversations with passengers.
  7. Give yourself enough time to get to your destination.
  8. Pre-program your GPS, radio and temperature controls before driving.
  9. Don’t smoke, drink or eat food while driving.
  10. Pull over if you need to use your phone, take a break, get an item or address your children or pets.

The next time you get in the car, think twice before you pick up your phone or allow yourself to become distracted behind the wheel. You could be putting your safety and the safety of your passengers in jeopardy.

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