MVA Insurers

Ontarians Risk Distracted Driving Despite Knowing the Danger


March 23, 2023 from Insurance Business


A recent survey conducted by RATESDOTCA in Ontario found discrepancies between thought and action with regard to safe driving practices.


57% of respondents considered distracted driving the “greatest threat to road safety”, ironically 24% still engaged in distracted driving behaviours. The most common distractors were non-electronic behaviours. 60% of Ontarians admitted to eating and drinking while driving and 52% confessed they talked to passengers.


On the other hand, fewer respondents reported using electronic devices while driving. Only 21% admitted they checked their phone for messages and a mere 6% said they were likely to send a text message.


The survey revealed that the likelihood of a driver engaging in distracting behaviour seemed to be linked to whether or not they believed the act was safe. For example, those aged 35-49 were the most likely to check their text messages while driving and 16% of them believe this was a safe behaviour.


Correspondingly, respondents between the ages of 50-65 were found to be the most likely to eat or drink while driving at 21%. 16% of this group thought this was safe to do.


The survey also demonstrated a knowledge gap surrounding what constitutes distracted driving. A large majority of Ontarians recognized that using their electronic devices while driving was dangerous but few considered more common behaviours, like reaching for an object, to be distracted driving.


The report warned of significant penalties as a result of distracted driving, such as demerits, license suspension, and possibly jail time. What’s more, a conviction resulting from distracted driving will also impact car insurance rates.


Meanwhile, in the Western provinces, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) recently launched an educational and enforcement campaign to combat distracted driving. The campaign includes “Cell Watch” deployments in communities across BC, reminding drivers to avoid cell phone use while driving.