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State Farm survey highlights Canadians’ distracted driving habits

State Farm survey highlights Canadians' distracted driving habits

Aurora, Ontario — May 19, 2015  

According to the findings of a recent national survey, a large number of Canadian motorists are guilty of distracted driving.

The results of the online survey — conducted by State Farm Canada in February, polling 1,300 Canadian motorists in urban and rural communities — were released May 14. The insurance company noted a striking difference between drivers’ own perception of their abilities behind the wheel in comparison to those with whom they share the road.

According to the poll, 93 percent of respondents feel that other drivers drive distracted, while 56 percent believe that they themselves rarely do so. In addition, 30 per cent of respondents named distracted driving as the most dangerous thing one can do while on the road, while 33 percent admitted to checking their cell phone or handheld device periodically while driving, and 35 percent outright confessed to driving while distracted.

“We know that distracted driving is a serious problem in Canada,” says John Bordignon, Media Relations, State Farm. “A 2011 Alberta Transportation study reveals that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers. And, distracted driving is more than talking on the cellphone, texting or eating; it includes allowing your attention to wonder to things away from the road. These distractions can have devastating results and are completely avoidable.”

State Farm says survey respondents indicated that objects outside of their cars, like houses and people, were most likely to distract them, especially in cases of those aged 65 and up.

Other findings include:
• Respondents aged 35-44 were the biggest offenders of texting while driving (16 percent) followed by those aged 18-34 (15 percent)
• Respondents aged 35-44 cite that they often eat and drink while driving (21 percent)
• Respondents aged 35-44 are also most guilty of being distracted by passengers/children in their car (21 percent)
• Among respondents with children under the age of 20, 40 percent said they try to teach their teen to not use their cell phone while driving
• Seven out of 10 parents list distracted driving and speeding as their teen’s most common driving errors
• Respondents under the age of 20 said one of the most common bad habits of one or both parents is driving distracted (23 percent)

When it comes to reducing distractions, State Farm points to traffic fines and collisions as the most successful deterrents, with 58 percent of those polled indicating they are most likely to break distracted driving habits if fines increase or if they become involved in a collision.

“It obviously makes more sense for Canadians to drop their bad habits now than to wait for a collision or a ticket to curb their behaviour,” says Bordignon. “Turning off your mobile device, staying focused on the road and the area you are travelling in, eating ahead of a journey, or pulling off the road to eat or make a call, are simple practices we can adopt immediately to significantly reduce the distractions we face while driving.”

The company says that it only takes less than a second of distracted driving to hit someone or something. When State Farm asked which type of animal respondents are most afraid of hitting while driving, 65 percent cited a deer or a moose, and 21 percent named a dog or cat.

According to data provided by Transport Canada, there are between four to eight large animal vehicle collisions hourly. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources estimates that every 38 minutes, a vehicle-wild animal collision occurs, with one out of every five collisions involving a wild animal.

State Farm and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) are currently working together on a new Wildlife Roadsharing Resource Centre, a publicly accessible database which will provide information about the location, habits and types of wildlife prevalent across the country. The database aims to educate governments and law enforcement about wildlife-vehicle collisions and how to avoid them, so they can in turn pass this information on to motorists.

The insurance company partners with TIRF, which works to compile evidence-based reports focused on road safety issues, aiming to prevent injury and save lives.

To find out more about State Farm, please visit statefarm.ca.

For more information on the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, go to tirf.ca.

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