Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car collisions in Canada. But you needn’t be involved in a crash for a distracted driving charge to impact your licence, insurance or life. Here are some causes of distracted driving and their effects.
Cause: cell phone use
Effect: increased rates
Cause: listening to music
Effect: no renewal
Cause: eating while driving
Effect: denial of service
Cause: interaction with passengers
Effect: injury or death
Mobile phones take the greatest amount of blame when it comes to distracting drivers and causing accidents. Nationwide Mutual Insurance reports that 81 percent of drivers admitted to using their cell phones in one way or another while on the road, including talking, texting, responding to emails or using the phone in a hands-off manner. According to research done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers engaged in texting are 23 times more likely to crash that those who don’—and that’s a risk you don’t want to take, especially during a Canadian winter snowstorm.
Typically, if you’re at-fault in a motor accident tied to distracted driving, you can expect your insurance rates to soar through the ceiling. At-fault accidents may stay on your insurance record for half a year to several years, and you’ll be paying significantly more for just about every type of coverage from personal injury to liability and collision. You could break your bank and your back by driving distracted, so don’t do it.
Driving to music can almost be as bad as texting while driving, because it’s too easy to get into the groove and lose concentration on the task at hand. Music can also block out certain sounds including horns, sirens, and speech, making many drivers become oblivious to obvious warning signs. According to research, loud music with a fast beat that makes a person’s heart rate jump – e.g. hip hop and electronic – is the most hazardous to safe driving. Audiophiles beware.
Many insurance providers will refuse to renew your insurance plan if it’s been determined an accident was caused by your distracted driving. Hope you enjoy researching and shopping for plans from other providers—oh, and since you’ll likely be without insurance for some time, not driving for a while either.
Sure, some busy people don’t have time to enjoy meals at the dining table, so they eat on the go instead—we get that. Sadly, eating at the wheel is a recipe for a possibly fatal car accident. Don’t risk your life over a Tim Horton’s breakfast Panini—it’s just not worth it. And spilling that hot Tim’s double-double on yourself could also mean very bad news.
In rare cases, some car insurance providers will outright deny you insurance if you have a poor driving record. Getting dropped means you’ll have to spend time and money looking elsewhere for coverage, and will be uninsured and unable to drive in the interim.
Having passengers in the car can make a boring ride much more entertaining, but driving is about getting to a destination, not just about having fun. Chatting, laughing, or singing with friends can send you to the local ER in a jiffy. Parents who have young ones in the backseat may get the urge to do some disciplining from the driver’s seat, but it’s wisest to ignore the kids’ crying and nagging and keep eyes glued to the road.
Driving distracted can be not only expensive—it can be deadly as well. Nearly a third of all crashes are caused by distracted driving, and, according to Alberta Transportation, drivers who are distracted are three times as likely to be involved in a crash. Furthermore, healthcare spending and productivity losses related to automobile accidents cost the economy over $10 billion every year. In the end, safety is always first, so focus on the road and nothing else when in the driver’s seat.