What Counts as Distracted Driving?

You're on your way home. The summer sun is setting before you, painting the billowing clouds above in striking shades of scarlet and hues of magenta. You look down to adjust the playlist on your music device and select the perfect song to accompany the view ahead. Then, you quickly reach for your cellphone in the backseat and one-handedly capture the picturesque moment with your camera. After all, this is a view worth sharing on social media.

As beautiful as the moment may have been, this was a moment of distracted driving.

During distracted driving, the driver's attention is focused elsewhere, and not on the road. Common examples of distracted driving could be reaching over to adjust the radio, turning to and petting your dog in the front seat, and eating behind the wheel. Distracted driving reduces awareness and impairs decision-making, which can lead to errors on the road, accidents almost taking place, or collisions.

Believe it or not, distracted driving is now the number one risk on Canadian roads, contributing to 8 in 10 police-reported collisions.* This means that distracted driving is more common than you may think. These police-reported collisions involved some form of driver inattention up to 3 seconds prior to the event. When distracted, a driver may fail to see and register up to 50% of the available information in their driving environment.

Canadian Distractions Behind the Wheel

Nearly 75% of Canadian drivers admit to driving distracted.* Examples of distracted behaviours behind the wheel:

  •   Adjusting iPod or radio
  •   Eating and drinking
  •   Looking and talking to passengers
  •   Talking on the phone with a hands-free device
  •   Reaching for something in the backseat
  •   Talking on a cellphone
  •   Sending text messages
  •   Adjusting GPS
  •   Taking off or putting on clothes or accessories
  •   Fixing hair and makeup

It is important to note that although the behaviours noted above are distracted driving behaviours, not all behaviours are illegal. However, these behaviours put the safety of you and your passengers at risk, so it is important to be aware of them.

So, which distracted driving behaviours are illegal?

  •   It is illegal to use hand-held wireless communication devices, such as your cellphone.
  •   It is also illegal to text, dial, or email while driving

Fines vary according to each province, so it is imperative to know the rules for your province.

What can you do legally?

  •   You may use a hands-free wireless communication device if you absolutely have to take a call while you are driving, such an earpiece. Although this is legal, it is important to be aware that it still creates a distraction while you drive.
  •   You may also view the display screens of GPS units as well.

Now that you are aware of what distracted driving is, do what you can to avoid these distracted behaviours and stay safe on the road.

The following tips are from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) to help avoid distracted driving:

  •   Know your route: Keep your drive-time focused by mapping out any routes before leaving. Use the voice navigation feature of your GPS or favourite map app so you don't have to check your phone regularly.
  •   Have a playlist ready: Choose playlists and songs before leaving the driveway to make sure you don’t get distracted searching for the perfect driving music
  •   Leave a message: Let your voicemail do what it does best. Put your phone on vibrate or turn it off altogether to limit incoming distractions.c

Did you know?

As a TD Insurance customer with auto coverage, if you've been accident-free for the last 6 years and carry Accident Forgiveness, we will 'forgive' your first at-fault or partially at-fault accident. This means your premiums will not increase when you renew your car insurance policy as a result of the accident specifically. Learn more about Accident Forgiveness.

*Insurance Bureau of Canada. (September, 2011) DWD may soon be the new DUI. Retrieved June 5, 2018, from http://www.ibc.ca/qc/auto/risk-management/distracted-driving

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