Distracted Driving: The Dangers of Using your Smartphone in the Car

woman driving while talking on her cell phoneWe all love our smartphones. They help us connect to our family, friends and the world. They notify us when we get a new emails, text messages or when someone has commented on your Facebook status. This happens frequently, even while driving! Smartphones have been linked to increased road accidents and traffic fatalities.

Shocking Statistics

The Globe and Mail and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported these shocking facts about driving and using your smartphone.

  • The Canadian Automobile Association found that 80 per cent of collisions and 65 per cent of near-crashes have some form of driver inattention as contributing factors.
  • The Ontario Provincial Police stated distracted driving now kills more people in Ontario than drunk driving and speeding combined.
  • A driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than someone who is watching the road.
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury.
  • Even when drivers use a hands-free phone, they are less aware of the traffic around them. They tend to react more slowly to a critical event or may not detect the danger at all.
  • A study found in 80 per cent of collisions, the driver had looked away from the road three seconds prior to the crash.

 

Not-so-safe social media

There have been incidents where distracted drivers not only texted while driving but also were using social media. Digital Trends.com reported these disturbing statistics:

  • 27 per cent of drivers report checking Facebook.
  • 14 per cent of drivers admit to tweeting.
  • 14 per cent of drivers scroll through Instagram.
  • 11 per cent of drivers check Snapchat.
  • 17 per cent of drivers have taken selfies while driving.
  • 10 per cent of drivers engage in video chat through Skype or FaceTime.
  • 30 per cent of drivers and Twitter users revealed they tweet “all the time” while driving.

27 per cent of drivers who use their smartphone to film from behind the wheel believe they are practicing safe driving tactics.

Put the phone away

How do we stop this distracted driving epidemic? For starters, we can turn off our smartphones and keep them out of sight in your purse, glove compartment or the trunk of your car. Even holding a smartphone in your hand while driving in Ontario is illegal.

How to avoid distracted driving

No matter how busy you are, it is absolutely essential that you pay attention to the road while driving. Here are some tips to help keep your attention on the road:

Check voicemails and messages before driving

Before you hop in the car, check any voicemails or messages on your smartphone beforehand. In fact, you can even record a message or send automatic replies to let anyone who is trying to get in touch with you, know that you are driving.

Pre-set controls

Similar to checking messages beforehand, you can also pre-set radio stations or climate control in your vehicle. This will help evade the distraction of fiddling with your vehicle’s settings trying to find a radio station and cooling/healing settings.

Save food for later

As tempting as the smell of those fries are, it’s not worth risking your life or someone else’s life to reach and grab a handful. Grab a bite before or after the car ride. Also, cleaning up pesky crumbs in your car is not a fun task.

Ensure children and pets are comfortable

Make sure any children and pets are seated comfortably and properly fastened in their seats. Make certain the children’s car seats are properly installed. If there are any pets in the vehicle, make sure they are in a crate or attached to a harness, fastened to a seatbelt.

 

Remember: Having a smartphone is extremely handy for work and personal reasons. It’s not handy behind the wheel. Please put away the phone when driving and help keep Ontario’s roads safe.

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