By Catherine Duffy
Sending a quick “on my way” text, checking a notification or changing the song on our phones while driving is something most of us can unfortunately admit to having done in the past. But what kind of risks do these behaviors evoke? Between having lost people in my life due to collisions and having experienced a rear-end collision myself just two weeks ago, I vowed long ago to never use my phone while driving. But how can we convince other drivers, notably those in the younger demographic, to leave their devices aside while driving? Does it really take a tragedy to show phone users just how distracting these behaviors can be? If we put our phone away while commuting, the National Safety Council might have 1.6 million less crashes to report annually.
Back in July, my friend and I were hit from behind at full speed. Strangely enough, the crash occurred in broad daylight, on a straight road as we stopped for a pedestrian. It was clear to us the driver of the other vehicle must have been distracted in some way. Though using one’s phone remains the most common distraction, behaviors such as eating and self-grooming can be just as dangerous. In Saskatchewan in Canada, where I live, using your phone while driving or driving without “due care” poses a $580 ticket and four demerits on one’s license. Should this person reoffend, their second charge will be $1400 and their car will be impounded for a week (SGI).
So with such serious charges, why does the use of phones while driving remain such a big issue? I decided to do some research into the matter and used the Canadian Automobile Association’s website as my main source.
CAA shared in 2018 that phone use while driving remains one of the biggest threats to the safety of Canadians. This point is further justified by the National Collision Database’s statistics that share that 310 deaths and 32.213 injuries occur every year in Canada simply because of the use of phones while driving. As my high school driving instructor once said, all of these could be avoided and lives would be saved if everyone committed to putting their phones away while on the road. Many of you reading this might already know how dangerous this can be. CBC news reported in 2014 that though 95 % of drivers surveyed know and have been taught the dangers of using your phone on the road, 73 % of people still admit to having done it. So why can’t people resist the urge of sending a quick text?
CAA reports that phone addiction may be to blame. 93 % of phone users continue their use on the road to “stay connected” while another 28% have anxiety and worry about “missing out” should they put their phone away on their journey between point A and point B. 25 % are so confident in their driving that they don’t believe the use of phones will affect their driving skills. Another 14 % are anxious to keep their friends waiting on an answer and 6 % of phone users simply blame their addiction to texting.
Though I am sure that a great portion of the younger population are guilty of phone use, older adults have their fair share of distractions on the road as well. The CAA shares that GPS is the most distracting task while driving and even devices deemed “safer” such as hands-free systems are still involved in 26 % of all vehicle crashes.
So next time you wish to answer a friend’s text, or share a quick photo of your drive home, remember you’re raising your risks of a crash by 23 times. Though it’s been said in millions of anti-phone use campaigns, I’ll be cliché and say it one more time: is sending a text really worth your life?
CAA National. (n.d.). Distracted Driving. Retrieved July 30th, 2020, from https://www.caa.ca/distracted-driving/statistics/
SGI. (n.d.). Distracted driving penalties. Retrieved July 25, 2020, from https://www.sgi.sk.ca/distracted-driving-penalties
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