“Basically, if you’re doing anything other than driving - you’re distracted.”
- Constable Clint Stibbe of the Toronto police’s traffic services.
Truer words have never been spoken - and yet we still don’t get it.
Here’s the legal definition of distracted driving, as noted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
“Distracted driving is a form of impaired driving as a driver's judgment is compromised when they are not fully focused on the road.”
We often liken distracted driving to the use of a device, but that’s only a portion of the fatalities. There are deaths in crashes where the driver wasn’t paying attention for any reason. Eliminating preventable distractions before you get behind the wheel not only makes driving less stressful - but it can also save lives.
Take in these alarming statistics from CAA:
- Did you know that checking a text for 5 seconds means that at 90 km/h, you’ve travelled the length of a football field blindfolded?
- Drivers conversing on mobile devices, either hands-free or hand-held are up to 4x as likely to be involved in a crash.
- 80% of collisions and 65% of near crashes have some form of driver inattention as contributing factors.
And sure, we can throw statistics around all day, but despite how horrifying they are, we’ve all fallen victim to being distracted behind the wheel.
With that being said, here are 10 distracted driving habits you might not even know you’re doing – and how you can stop them before you or someone else becomes a statistic.
1. Looking at your phone while stopped at a light
33% of Canadians admit they have texted while stopped at a red light, despite believing it is unacceptable. All phones should be banned from cars, whether or not the person using them is actually holding it.
2. Using your smart watch
Distracted driving is distracted driving even when the device being used is hands-free, because you’re ultimately moving your gaze away from the road.
3. Talking to other people in the car
Research suggests that it is having a voice engage people in conversation that makes people react badly to hazards.
4. Changing the radio/GPS
Modern cars have usually have built in GPS screens with monitors as big as a tablet. So when you take your eyes off the road to check the directions or change the music – just remember, you’re taking your eyes off the road.
Have you ever put your driving on a cognitive autopilot and you don’t consciously remember driving for the past six blocks? Even though your hands are at ten and two – you’re still thinking about something else that isn’t related to driving the 3,000 pound missile you’re in charge of.
6. Eating or drinking
There are a lot of moving parts to eating and drinking while driving. You’re worried about not spilling anything, getting crumbs anywhere, keeping your clothes clean, looking down into your lap, constant hand motion. This process seems like second nature to most people – but it’s a distracted, disjointed task.
Smoking still implies that you’re distracted, because you’re devoting a portion of your cognitive energy to that other task.
8. Personal Grooming
This is usually one of the worst because what typically happens when you’re grooming? You’re looking in the mirror! Meaning your eyes are off the road for a few seconds. Remember that quote about travelling the length of a football field blindfolded?
While some of these aren’t technically punishable offenses by law; they’re still distracted driving habits that can develop over time. Be conscious of your behaviour when you’re driving – and please make a conscious effort to mitigate these to protect yourself and others on the road.
Our lawyers at Harris Law have the experience to get you the compensation you deserve if you've been in an accident due to a distracted driver; we’ll even conduct our own investigation. Contact us today.