CDN’s favour anti-texting technology to combat cell phone distracted driving

AVIVA Canada

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of death on the road. Today, almost everyone owns a cell phone and when your phone sends you a notification, it can be hard to resist the urge to check who’s messaged you or updated their social media status with the coolest thing they’ve seen.

In 2016, 65 people were killed in OPP-investigated collisions due to an inattentive driver compared to 45 in alcohol-related fatal collisions. Speed related incidents accounted for 55 deaths and seatbelt-related incidents accounted for 53.

The RCMP defines distracted driving as, “a form of impaired driving as a driver’s judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road.” Laws around cellphone use and driving are different in each province and territory in Canada. In some provinces, a person can be fined up to over $500 and lose up to four demerit points if charged with distracted driving.

In 2015, Aviva launched the “Driving Change Together” campaign to curb distracted driving. This year Aviva is increasing its efforts with the #avivayolo campaign against texting and driving, asking drivers to share their stories.

As more and more people depend on their cell phones to stay connected, it has also become a distraction for drivers. In a new poll conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights for Aviva Canada, 95 per cent of Canadians said texting and driving by others makes them feel unsafe on the road. A total of 88 per cent of Canadians have witnessed other drivers texting behind the wheel, while only 22 per cent of respondents admitted to texting while driving.

Currently, technology exists in the form of apps and devices that can help drivers stay focused on the road. Some vehicles now have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay that allow drivers to connect their smartphones to the vehicle’s built-in display – providing access to select functions on their phone. Drivers can access maps, music, and even pick up a call. With voice activation, it also allows drivers to stay focused on the road.

In efforts to curb texting and driving Android Auto is also equipped with an auto reply function that allows drivers to tap a preset message back to the sender. Similarly, Apple has developed a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” (DND While Driving) feature for their newest iOS11.  The iPhone 8 launched on Tuesday which includes this new feature.

As an extension to the existing “Do Not Disturb” feature, the iPhone can now detect when you’re driving and block incoming calls, texts and notifications. Your screen will also stay dark. If the “DND While Driving” is activated, your phone can send an automatic response to those trying to reach you – you can also customize the message.

It seems Android, Apple and third-party app companies are on the right track. According to Aviva Canada’s latest poll, the majority of Canadians believe the solution to making roads safer is technology that disables the texting function on a smartphone while a person is driving rather than peer pressure or police crackdowns. Furthermore, 78 per cent said they want to see insurance companies, auto manufacturers and governments work toward a technology solution that would stop distracted driving by disabling texting and other functions while a driver is behind the wheel.

The RCMP reports 80 per cent of collisions are due to drivers taking their eyes away from the road for only three seconds prior to a crash. Texting makes you 23 times more likely to crash. Despite advancing technology, drivers should always be alert and never be distracted while driving.

October is Cyber Security Awareness month

Aviva Canada

Did you know?

In 2016, Canadians lost $40 million to online scams. With identify theft and other online security breaches on the rise, consumers need to be aware of how to protect themselves.

What is identify theft?

Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information – like your credit card, Social Insurance Number or name – without your knowledge or consent, to commit fraud. Some common ID theft scams include creating false lines of credit and making purchases using a stolen bank account or credit card.

According to the Ontario Securities Commission, your identity is at risk when:

  • you enter your credit card information online on a non-secure website
  • you click on an email link from what looks like a legitimate bank or online shopping service (eg. PayPal) and enter your account information
  • your personal information (Social Insurance Card, credit card or bank card) are stolen
  • you give out your credit card’s three-digit security code over the phone to a scammer who claims to be from your financial institution
  • any time your personal information is available to others

Aviva’s Identity Theft coverage is now even better

Aviva has introduced an enhanced ID Theft coverage – offering customers even more peace of mind as they tap, swipe and click their way through life. As one of the most comprehensive on the market, it features widespread financial protection if your identity is compromised, including:

  • an increased limit of $40,000 per policy term for all ID theft expense claims
  • a $5,000 limit per policy term to cover any financial loss due to ID theft
  • 24/7 credit bureau monitoring and two credit bureau reports for six months after an ID theft claim
  • access to your own ID theft case worker to help you identify and restore your finances and personal information after an ID theft claim

Don’t let thieves get the upper hand – learn more here or contact an insurance broker to add Identity Theft coverage to your home insurance policy.

#HeadsUp, Saskatchewan – Distracted driving is always a bad call

Picking up your phone while driving to let your friend know you’re running late? That’s a bad call. It’s illegal, dangerous and may cost you – there might be a police officer watching from a bus or an unmarked vehicle in the next lane, and the fines and penalties are stiff.

Distracted driving is the focus of October’s Traffic Safety Spotlight. Throughout the month, police across the province will be using a variety of tactics to catch distracted drivers in the act, including surveillance from unmarked vehicles and plainclothes officers on the sidewalks. Regina Police Service is running “Operation Bus Cop,” with eagle-eye officers watching for distracted drivers from city buses.

Police will be on the lookout for people using handheld cellphones to talk, text, email or browse online while driving. But distracted driving isn’t just limited to using a phone.

“Drivers are still not getting the message. If you are in control of a vehicle, anything that takes your attention away from the road is dangerous,” said Superintendent Brian Shalovelo, Saskatoon Police Service. “If someone says they were picking up a CD on the floor when they lost control, that is distracted driving. Changing the radio station, smoking a cigarette, reading a map or your mail – these are all examples of how a driver can be distracted. We’ve even seen people watching Netflix while driving.”

“The average car or lightweight truck weighs over four thousand pounds,” said Chief Evan Bray, Regina Police Service. “That is two tons of comfort and convenience to get you to your destination…or it’s two tons of steel and glass that can take your life, or someone else’s, if you lose control. Is there any text message, photo or music selection in the world that could be more important than a human life?”

“The message is simple: put the phone away and encourage your friends and family to do the same,” said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice President of the Auto Fund. “Put it out of reach in your glove box, zip it up in your purse and put it in the back seat, or mount it on your dashboard and use it hands-free if you’re an experienced driver. We all have a responsibility to make safe choices behind the wheel.”

It is illegal for drivers in Saskatchewan to use, view, hold or manipulate a cellphone while driving. This means that, even if you’re simply holding a cellphone and not using it, you can still be charged. Drivers caught using their cellphone while driving for the second time within one year will have the vehicle they are driving seized for seven days. Experienced drivers can only use a cellphone if it is mounted to their visor or dash, and they use the voice-activated or one-touch functions. Learner and novice drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free.

The penalty for distracted driving is a $280 fine and four demerit points under SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program.

Everyone can drive free of distractions by following these tips:

  • Don’t use your cellphone, even at a red light – the law applies whenever you’re in control of a vehicle.
  • Put the phone away – silence your phone and put it out of reach before getting behind the wheel.
  • Focus on driving – limit distractions like eating, grooming, or having emotional conversations with passengers.
  • Have a designated texter – let your passenger reply to messages and operate the radio and GPS.
  • Pull over first – if you need to make a call or take care of children or pets, don’t do it while driving.
  • Call out friends and family – if you see them using a cellphone behind the wheel, speak up! It may save their life.

Visit SGI’s website at www.sgi.sk.ca to learn more about distracted driving and the strengthened cellphone legislation.

August Traffic Safety Spotlight Results: Impaired driving

During the August spotlight on impaired driving police reported 390 impaired driving offences, including 334 Criminal Code charges.

Police also reported:

  • 4,243 tickets for speeding or aggressive driving
  • 360 tickets for inappropriate or no seatbelt/child restraint
  • 459 tickets for distracted driving (including 342 for cellphone use)

Using a toonie to check your winter tire tread

This video first ran in December 2011.

We asked our viewers to send us their questions and concerns about winter tires, and we posed those to tire expert Paul Luciano, co-owner of CP Tire in Carleton Place, Ontario. Janet from Alberta asks, “How long will my treads last, and is there a way I can test them?”

Paul Luciano: About average (mileage) is 18,000 to 25,000 kilometers a year and I would say three good seasons. You’ll probably still have tread remaining on those snow tires, but they won’t have the same traction as they did when they were new.

This tire measures about 60 percent worn and less than 6/32s of tread. An all-season tire brand new will come with approximately 11/32s to 13/32s, depending on the manufacturer. The tread depth is that much. In order for this tire to pass the safety, we require 4/32s of tread above the wear bar which is right here. This tire would actually pass a safety if it had an even 4/32s of tread across the face of the tire. But, like all tires, the bottom section of the tread lug is significantly harder than the top. When you get down to this depth of tread, although still serviceable in dry weather, it’s not so good in wet or cold.

Not everyone carries around a professional device for measuring tread depth, but there is a simple trick most of us can use with a good old toonie.

Paul Luciano: 12/32s of rubber, if you’re testing the depth of your new tires, should reach the paws of the polar bear on the toonie. At 50 percent wear, which is approximately 7/32s of tread, if you put your toonie into the tire tread, at 50 percent will cover the nickel part of the toonie. At 4/32s of tread, at which the tire would not be very good in winter driving although would still have tread on it, would just partially cover the letters of the word “dollars” on your toonie.

 

We Need Another Sign

I live near a section of Highway 19 that travels through a built up area. The highway changes from 4 lanes divided by a barrier with a posted speed of 90 km/h to 4 lanes that is not divided posted at 60 km/h. So few people slow to 60 that I often hear long time locals asking new residents if they have gotten a speeding ticket there yet.

Before the median barrier was installed, this 60 km/h zone was part of the highest collision zone policed by Central Vancouver Island Traffic Services.

Nanoose Bay Highway Cam

A couple of afternoons ago there was a two vehicle collision in that 60 zone that blocked northbound traffic. I posted details on Facebook in a local resident’s group as there was no path around the collision scene and traffic would be held up until emergency services dealt with the situation.

The post triggered a discussion that included frustrated comments on how difficult it was to get onto the highway from side roads and that drivers regularly failed to stop for the traffic light in the middle of the zone.

Since this is a high collision area, it was also suggested that the appropriate authority be contacted to have a sign to that effect posted with the hope that drivers would slow down.

Which would you rather do when turning left from a stop sign, cross two lanes of traffic to enter a third lane when everyone is travelling at 60 km/h or at 90 km/h?

Why is that such an easy choice when you are turning from a side road, but not when you are the through traffic?

I’ve seen some novel ways to cope such as turning into the oncoming left turn lane and then moving right into the through lane.

The traffic lights at the intersection are preceeded by advance warning signs. One would think that if the drivers were paying attention red light running would not occur.

Having said that, I wonder if the advanced warning lights are timed for drivers who are obeying the speed limit. If they are, the lights will not come on soon enough to provide sufficient warning for those that remained at 90 km/h (or more).

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) installed a dynamic speed display sign on the southbound side of the zone. It is unfortunate that the area is not covered by a traffic count station so that we can see if there has been an improvement or not.

There is some indication of high collision area signs for wildlife having an effect on driver’s speeds but I was not able to find data not related to wildlife. Do you suppose that drivers who don’t obey the 60 km/h speed signs will pay more attention to a high collision area sign? Perhaps.

About a decade ago I attended an open house hosted by the MOTI. They presented four plans for public comment on modifications to this stretch of highway so that drivers could travel through safely at 90 km/h instead of having to slow to 60 km/h. Aside from the installation of some median barriers, no other construction has taken place.

That decade has also seen the average annual daily traffic volume increase from 27,740 to 30,848 vehicles.

Of course, until the budget is found for changes, the simplest way to make this highway safer is for us all to share it unselfishly. If we slow to 60 km/h and stop properly for the red light chances are good that there will be fewer collisions like this one.

New Web-Based Resource Launched to Help Prevent Drug-Impaired Driving

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), in partnership with State Farm® Canada, has launched a Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre (DIDLC). The Centre is a web-based resource that was designed to share the latest research about the problem, increase awareness, and inform the development of effective strategies to tackle it.

Drug-impaired driving has become a top priority among governments, law enforcement, and other road safety stakeholders in the past few years. Increases in the proportion of drivers who self-report driving within two hours of consuming drugs, combined with increases in the proportion of drivers killed in road crashes who tested positive for drugs, warrant attention and concern. Public awareness of the impairing effects of many drugs is quite low, and strategies to reduce the prevalence of this problem are much needed.

The effects of alcohol consumption on driving are widely acknowledged; however, much less is known about the effects of different drugs on driving. This, in combination with the permissive attitudes among young drivers towards marijuana and driving, suggests that work is needed to increase awareness about the risks.

“More public awareness and education about the impacts of drug-impaired driving are essential to combatting its consequences,” said John Bordignon, Media Relations State Farm Canada. “Recent State Farm surveys reveal about half of cannabis users that drive feel the drug does not negatively affect their ability to operate a motor vehicle. With impending legalization of recreational marijuana and the opioid crisis in parts of Canada, a factual, publicly available resource like the DIDLC is a valuable tool that can help prevent injury and save lives.”

“The science of drug impairment is much more complex as compared to alcohol impairment,” said Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF. “The multitude and diversity of legal and illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications that can impair driving is substantial. Moreover, the impairing effects of some drugs may vary based on user characteristics and the conditions under which drugs are consumed.”

The good news is that research investigating drug-impaired driving has grown exponentially in the past few years. Studies exploring this topic have been conducted across many disciplines including road safety, justice, health, and neuroscience to name a few. The bad news is that this rapid proliferation of research can make it challenging for decision-makers, governments, law enforcement and health practitioners to keep pace with the latest knowledge.

“Drug-impaired driving is a source of concern for many stakeholders because this cross-cutting issue affects drivers of all ages,” said Dr. Ward Vanlaar, Chief Operating Officer at TIRF. “According to TIRF’s National Fatality Database, 44.5% of drivers killed in road crashes tested positive for drugs in 2013; a larger proportion than those drivers testing positive for alcohol (31.6%). Whereas young drivers were more likely to test positive for marijuana, older drivers were more likely to test positive for prescription drugs.”

TIRF created the DIDLC to support the efforts of governments and road safety stakeholders to prevent and reduce drug-impaired driving. This comprehensive resource contains several modules and is structured in a user-friendly, accessible, question and answer format. It also includes a variety of fact sheets that can be used by health professionals, teachers, parents and teens to increase knowledge and awareness about drug-impaired driving. The resource can be accessed at: www.druggeddriving.tirf.ca.

Fast Facts

According to TIRF’s 2016 Road Safety Monitor on Drugs & Driving:

  • Approximately 2.2% of drivers self-reported driving within two hours of using marijuana in 2016 compared to 1.6% in 2013.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Crash Problem in Canada 2013 Report:

  • In 2013 fatally injured young drivers (26-35 years old) were more likely to test positive for drugs (50.3%) than any other age group.
  • Male drivers accounted for 76.2% of all fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs.
  • Fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs were more likely to be involved in a single vehicle collision (48.2%).
  • Among those who tested positive for drugs, cannabis was the most frequently detected drug among fatally injured drivers.

About TIRF

Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.

About the State Farm brand in Canada.

In January 2015, State Farm Canada operations were purchased by the Desjardins Group, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and among the three largest P&C insurance providers in Canada. With its 500 dedicated agents and 1700 employees, the State Farm division provides insurance and financial services products including mutual funds, life insurance, vehicle loans, critical illness, disability, home and auto insurance to customers in OntarioAlberta and New Brunswick. For more information, visit www.statefarm.ca, join us on Facebook – www.facebook.com/statefarmcanada – or follow us on Twitter – www.twitter.com/StateFarmCanada.

® State Farm and related trademarks and logos are registered trademarks owned by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, used under licence by Certas Home and Auto Insurance Company and certain of its affiliates.

SOURCE Traffic Injury Research Foundation

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