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Distracted driving common among Canadians

Youngest drivers are not the worst offenders for driving while distracted

Published: July 7, 2013, 11:00 PM
Updated: November 26, 2014, 3:41 AM

Distracted Driving

In a recent Allstate Insurance Company of Canada survey, 90% of the Canadian drivers polled admitted to some kind of distraction while behind the wheel – even though 83% said they were aware that they could be ticketed and/or fined for driving while distracted.

But they had little tolerance for others who drive while distracted. Almost all (97%) perceived distracted driving negatively when others did it.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Generation X drivers (born 1965-1980) were the most likely to admit to distracted driving behaviours, with 95% acknowledging having done so.

In what might be a surprise, however, it was the Boomer generation (born 1946-1964) that ranked next in the survey, with 91% admitting to some form of distraction behind the wheel.

Generation Y, also known as Millennials (born 1981 to 1996), who grew up with cell phones and other mobile devices and might have been expected to be most susceptible to driver distraction, ranked third at 88%.

They were followed by the so-called Silent Generation (born 1925-1945), fully 84% of whom admitted to who admitted to distracted driving on occasion.

As for the types of distractions, the survey addressed more than just talking or texting on a hand-held cell-phone. But 35% of both the Gen Xers and Millennials did admit to texting, sending e-mails or taking photos while driving.

Other common distractions identified included:

> Eating/drinking (77%);

> Adjusting the radio or iPod/MP3 player (63%);

> Looking at passengers when speaking to them (51%);

> Playing the radio excessively loud (45%).

In addition, almost one-third of both Gen Xers (29%) and Millennials (32%) admitted to putting on and taking off clothing or accessories while driving.

When asked whether there should be tougher laws to discourage distracted driving, the younger the generation, the less likely they were to agree. Only 66% of Gen Y respondents believed there should be tougher laws, compared to 76% of Gen Xers, 80 per cent of Boomers, and 85% of the Silent Generation.

Allstate Canada commissioned Abacus Data (abacusdata.ca) to conduct the online survey of 2465 Canadian adults, including 2175 licenced drivers, between May 21 and 25, 2013. The sample was weighted by age, gender and region to be proportionately representative of the Canadian population aged 18 and older.

"No matter how many years of experience you have behind the wheel, distracted driving is never acceptable, says Saskia Matheson, a director of risk management, Auto for Allstate Canada. "We need to reinforce with all drivers the severity of distracted driving and that everyone needs to make a conscious commitment to keeping our roads safer."

Related Article: Hands-free is not risk-free