Canadians consider themselves good drivers, but admit to bad habits

Published: August 15, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



A new study finds that most Canadians (95%) see themselves as good drivers, but most (93%) contradict the belief by admitting they are guilty of at least one bad habit behind the wheel.

A study by Intact Financial Corporation subsidiary, belairdirect, carried out by Leger Research. Conducted in July and published Monday, the survey was performed over 1,551 Canadians, 18 years of age and older. Leger Research also used data from Statistics Canada. To ensure a representative sample, the company weighted the results according to age, region, gender, language, education, and whether children are in the household.

“Many Canadians have engaged in risky or distracting behaviour while driving, including eating and drinking, using a cellphone, applying make-up and even being romantic or intimate,” belairdirect said in the statement. “But, the good news is that they are willing to change – for the right incentive.”

Amongst the findings of the survey was what Canadians think is the most dangerous driving habit. Being under the influence of drink and drugs (89%) was deemed the worst behaviour, followed by distracted driving (54%) and fatigue (42%). Seventy-nine (79%) of those asked said they would stop a bad habit if there was a monetary incentive involved, such as an auto insurance discount.

While distracted driving is a growing problem in Canada, the belairdirect poll finds it is the habit drivers are most willing to stop doing, especially the use of a smartphone. However, drivers are less willing to stop other activities, such as changing radio stations, talking to other passengers, drinking a beverage.

Just 9% of respondents said they would not stop any habit, even if monetary incentives were involved.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • 93% of those aged 18-34 were willing to improve their driving habits if they knew they would be rewarded;
  • Drivers aged 18-44 are significantly more likely to admit to having used their cellphone, updated a map or GPS, removed an article of clothing such as a jacket or applied make-up while driving;
  • Three in 10 drivers admit to have driven through a red light (31%) and disobeyed road signs (29%);
  • People in these provinces were most willing to change driving habits, if they knew they would be rewarded: British Columbia and Alberta, both 96%, followed closely by Saskatchewan and Manitoba (92%). The rest of the provinces were also overwhelmingly willing (80% plus) to change their driving habits;
  • 14% of drivers have engaged in romantic activities while driving; and
  • 3% of drivers have flossed while driving.

“belairdirect is committed to encouraging all Canadians to engage in good driving habits and understands that drivers may not realize that some behaviours are putting them at risk,” Richard Taschereau, deputy senior vice president of marketing, communications and business development with belairdirect, said in the statement. “We’ve all been in a rush or off to a special occasion, but with millions of people on the road, it’s important that we take an active role in keeping the roads safe.”