TIRF survey details distracted driving trends

Published: November 5, 2019

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The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) has released a factsheet detailing trends regarding distracted driving in Canada. Within the paper there are summaries of driver attitudes and practices related to distracted driving.

TIRF compiled the information from data provided by the Road Safety Monitor (RSM), an annual opinion survey the Foundation conducts with backing from Desjardins and Beer Canada.

Looking at distracted driving trends from 2004 to 2018, there has been a considerable rise year-on-year in terms of how concerned people are by distracted driving, from a low of 33.4% in 2004 up to 75.9%.

The survey shows Canadians are seemingly aware that using a phone behind the wheel is illegal and dangerous. However, there is a minority of respondents who are still not clear on this point. In 2010, 21.7% admitted to using a phone when driving. By 2018, this number had jumped to 36.5%, which TIRF describes as a “significant increase”.

“More concerning than the minority of respondents who didn’t appear to recognize the risks of texting while driving, is that this minority has increased significantly in the past decade,” said Ward Vanlaar, Chief Operating Officer of TIRF. “In fact, the size of this group has now surpassed the size of the group of drivers who admit to driving while over the legal limit for alcohol.”

“To put distracted driving in context with other road safety issues, concern with distracted driving was compared to the RSM self-reported concern with drinking and driving. Concern for drinking and driving has decreased from a high of 80.6% in 2004 to a low of 64.5% in 2018,” explains Craig Lyon, Senior Research Scientist at TIRF. “These results demonstrate that, at 75.9%, the issue of distracted driving is now a greater concern for Canadians although there is still a substantial concern with regard to drinking and driving.”