Texting and Driving - Huge Problem

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The message to youth is clear. Don’t text and drive. When I look around on the highway, in town, and on the roads I don’t think adults are getting the message. I see people on the 401 clearly typing away as they drive. They are under the illusion it isn’t distracting to them, yet as any of us who’ve been behind someone doing it we see their speed increase or decrease as they drift in their lane.

There are different styles of texters - the in your lap, the on the wheel, the centre of dashboard… again we’ve seen them all. At stop signs and traffic lights, on the road while moving and on the highway. Frankly it is terrifying to me to consider that people think looking at a phone emailing or texting while driving 110 km/h isn’t dangerous.

We need greatly increased enforcement and a buy in from mobile phone providers and car manufacturers to stop the carnage on our roads caused by this kind of distracted driving. There is no reason, for example, that car manufacturers can’t install test and email blocking systems for use when a car is moving. Phones should come equipped with aps that easily allow the texts and emails to be blocked unless the driver actively turns the ap off each time they get in the car.

Enforcement needs to be stepped up and we need to equip our police with the right tools for the job of combatting texting and driving. A newly proposed New York state law will allow police to test technology that will check whether drivers were texting and driving before a crash. This would not require a warrant. It will require that any driver involved in a car accident that results in damage or personal injury to surrender any mobile device in their possession for testing. The history of the phone would then be used as evidence.

Here are some interesting facts from the CAA website.

  1. Cell phones are one of the most common distractions for drivers. Drivers engaged in text messaging on a cellular phone are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2010)
  2. 84% of distracted-driving-related fatalities in the US were tied to the general classification of carelessness or inattentiveness (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009)
  3. 80% of collisions and 65% of near crashes have some form of driver inattention as contributing factors (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010)
  4. Distracted drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers (Alberta Transportation, 2011)
  5. Driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year
  6. Children are four times more distracting than adults as passengers, and infants are eight times more distracting than adults as passengers
  7. Economic losses caused by traffic collision-related health care costs and lost productivity are at least $10 billion annually. That's about 1% of Canada's GDP! (Government of Canada)
  8. In 2010, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 104 collision fatalities in British Columbia (RCMP)
  9. International research shows that 20% to 30% of all collisions involve driver distraction (Alberta Transportation, 2011)