Distracted Driving Stats Reveal Troubling Double Standards

On September 1, 2011, distracted driving became a ticketable offence in Alberta. Then in 2016, the penalty for driving distracted increased to $287 and three demerit points (view all distracted driving penalties across Canada). But distracted driving violations are not showing signs of letting up. In fact, it may be getting worse.

Here are the stats for distracted driving convictions in Alberta:

  • 2015: 27,417
  • 2016: 27,281
  • January – March 2017: 24,665

This does not bode well for our driving community because studies have shown that distracted driving is very dangerous, and it’s putting everyone who uses our roads at risk.

  • Drivers are 23 times more likely to be in a crash or near crash when texting, and 4 – 5 times more likely if talking on the phone. (Source: Virginia Tech)
  • Drivers take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds per text—at 90 km/h, that’s the length of a football field. (Source: Virginia Tech)
  • Distracted driving is causing more collisions than impaired driving. (Source: CAA)

Yet, while most drivers know that distracted driving is bad, there seems to be a disconnect with its associated risks.

  • 94% believe texting, emailing, or using social media is a serious threat to their safety, yet 33% said they’ve done it while driving in the past month. (Source: City of Edmonton)
  • 33% believe texting at a stop light is unacceptable, yet the same people admit to doing it in the past month. (Source: CAA)

Some drivers may think that if they see the risks ahead, they will be able to respond. Others may see a traffic stop as a safe zone for texting. The truth is that it’s difficult to safely share the road with others when drivers tune out at every red light, train crossing, or traffic jam – particularly when texting is often considered to be the riskiest behaviour.

Research also has shown that telephone conversations are more distracting than in-vehicle conversations, probably because passengers can observe the road, provide warning, and adjust the conversation according to traffic conditions. Telephone conversations, on the other hand, have fewer pauses and demand more mental resources because you can’t rely on visual cues.

The bottom line is this: everyone has the same goal in mind – to arrive home safely. So, put all distractions aside and focus on the driving task at hand.


Want to Learn Distraction-Free Driving?

Check out these tips to a safer, more focused drive or sign up for AMA’s online Distracted Driver course.

I am a Fleet Safety Operations Manager with 30 years of experience teaching traffic safety across five provinces, and in four countries. Outside of work, I am an avid traveller, a fervent Flames fan, and a Mustang enthusiast.