40% of Canadians would need to injure or kill someone before they are willing to put down the phone
Legislation against using cell phones or other electronic devices has been in place for a number of years throughout Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador were the first to introduce legislation back in April 2003 with fines starting at $45 to $180 and has since been raised to a range of $100 to $400.
British Columbia currently has the third lowest fine at $167 that has not changed since legislation was introduced in February 2010. In March of this year, Ontario increased their fine from $155 to $280 when chief justice Annemarie Bonkalo signed a judicial order to approve the new fine. In August of this year, it was announced that a new law raising the fine in Ontario to a maximum of $1,000 and three demerit points will be introduced when the legislature resumes this fall. That would make Ontario’s fines the highest in Canada by a considerable margin.
A disturbing trend is that the number of fatalities caused by distracted driving is reported as now exceeding those caused by drunk driving.
While speeding remains the number one cause of road fatalities in BC, distracted driving is now in second place followed by impaired driving.
In spite of the extensive media coverage of devastating injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving, Canadians appear unable or unwilling to resist the temptation to use their phones while driving.
A recent survey by Allstate Canada found that in order to resist the temptation, four out of ten Canadians would need to be injured or cause injury or death to someone else before they would have sufficient incentive to drop the distractions when at the wheel. To put it simply, 40% of Canadians are placing a greater value on their phones over the lives of other Canadians.
Most, if not all, companies have safe driving policies in place, including restricting use of hand-held electronic devices. While the specifics of each policy may differ, the intent is the same: reduce crashes, injuries and deaths in the workplace caused by distracted driving.
There are provincial laws in place to levy fines and demerits against drivers who commit these offences. While there is certainly debate about the efficacy of these laws and the appropriateness of the penalties, the intent is the same across the board: reduce crashes, injuries and deaths on Canadian roadways.
So, why are Canadians so determined to risk penalties, injuries and deaths just so they can stay connected?
The Allstate Canada study also found that 57 per cent of Canadians are in favour of using onboard technology to prevent them from using their phones while driving.
These results clearly show that distracted driving is not just a technology issue, it is a societal issue; the belief system that allows someone to place a greater value on their phone than on someone’s life is disturbing in the extreme.
Distracted driving prevention has gone beyond corporate policies, laws, fines, and even technology itself; this issue is something that has to be addressed at a level that can change society’s definition of safe driving.
If you’re still using your phone while driving, what would it take for you to put it down?