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Apr 27, 2022

5 min. read

Reduce distracted driving by taking control of technology before you hit the road

From selecting your music playlist to setting a navigation app, a recent CAA poll revealed more than three-quarters (79 percent) of drivers have done something on the road that’s considered distracting or dangerous. What may seem like minor distractions are causing big problems on Canadian roads.

Motorists who drive distracted are eight times more likely to be in a crash or near-crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. But here’s an even more sobering statistic: Distracted driving contributes to 21 percent of fatal collisions every year, which is up from 16 percent just a decade ago. In some parts of Canada, distracted driving fatalities have surpassed those caused by impaired driving.

Unsurprisingly, technology remains a top distraction for drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S., sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 90 km/h, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. CAA research also shows 47 percent of Canadians admit to typing or using the voice-memo feature to send a message while driving. Though it’s not just personal devices competing for a driver’s attention. The expansion of in-vehicle technology has made driving more like multitasking—which proves detrimental for road safety.

“There’s a lot of distracting technology in our cars,” explains Heather Mack, Manager of Government and Community Relations at CAA Manitoba. “We can scroll through a music app, get text notifications and weather alerts. Individually, these are great. Collectively, they distract from our single most important job behind the wheel: driving safely.”

Research has shown that even if your eyes are on the road—with your hands on the wheel—if your mind is taken off the task of driving, you are distracted. Which means you might not see a child run onto the road or you could miss a cyclist turning into your lane.

To help reduce cognitive clutter, CAA’s latest campaign aims to remind motorists that technology is meant to assist, not replace, the driver. Motorists should avoid distractions they can control.

“The great news: Distracted driving is entirely preventable,” Mack notes. Set your navigation app before you head out. Adjust your seat, mirrors and other vehicle settings prior to putting the vehicle in gear.

“Do it all before you drive, so you can keep your eyes and mind on the road.”

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