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.