Beware of distraction while driving: joint study conducted by CAA-Quebec and TVA Network program JE to be broadcast tonight



    QUEBEC CITY, Nov. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Although a joint study conducted by
CAA-Quebec and the team of the public affairs television program JE offers a
unique perspective on the issue of distractions while driving, CAA-Quebec
believes there is still much to do, beyond whatever effectiveness this program
may have, to improve the situation. The show will be broadcast tonight at
7 p.m. on the TVA Network.
    "Most motorists will certainly see themselves reflected in this report,
and we hope our elected officials will too," says Sophie Gagnon, Director,
Public and Government Relations, CAA-Quebec. "In light of several awareness
campaigns on issues as vital as speeding or driving while under the influence
of alcohol, there is a pressing need to talk publicly about the dangers
related to distractions while driving."

    It's not just about cellphones

    "Our study also shows that the Minister of Transport should review her
position regarding the use of cellphones while driving, with a view to banning
all of them, including hands-free devices, which place just as many
constraints on the driver," Ms. Gagnon adds. All elected officials must
understand that simply having the conversation, regardless of the type of
device used, is what requires the driver's attention, she says. "The current
legislation, as presented by the Minister, will not likely decrease the number
of people who talk on the phone while driving. In fact, it will likely boost
the sale of hands-free accessories!" However, the study goes further by
showing that many everyday actions can demand a driver's attention. Another
study estimates that in almost 80% of all collisions, there was a momentary
lack of attention within three seconds preceding the incident.

    Distraction divides drivers' attention

    Aggressive driving, tailgating or weaving in and out of traffic lanes are
but a few examples of the effects of distraction observed in the study.
Indeed, the negative effect of distraction is that it divides the driver's
attention. For example, answering a phone call using a handset resulted in an
average nine-second loss of attention. That means that at a speed of
70 kilometres an hour, for example, the driver travels 176 metres with his or
her mind elsewhere. Again at 70 km/h, the average loss of attention climbs to
52 seconds when the driver makes a call with a hands-free device. This time,
the driver is completely distracted for the time it takes to cover a full
kilometre...

    An original team project

    Six drivers chosen by the JE team had to travel a specified route during
a period of about 25 minutes. The route, which was plotted out by CAA-Quebec
road safety experts, was entirely in an urban setting in the Quebec City
region, and took into account various common driving environments:
expressways, urban boulevards, streets with slower traffic, etc. The motorists
first drove the route under "normal" conditions, then covered the same circuit
again, but this time they had to deal with a variety of everyday distractions.
    The project was carried out safely over a period of two days and was
closely followed by the JE team, which then produced tonight's program using
the observation checklist given to them by CAA-Quebec. The organization was
represented during the study by road safety experts and instructors from its
Approved Driving Schools network.
    In light of the results of the study, CAA-Quebec encourages the public to
join together in thinking about the frequently neglected problem of
distractions at the wheel. For more information, please consult the
organization's report on its website (www.caaquebec.com) under What's New!

    CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides
automotive, travel, residential and financial services, benefits and
privileges to its approximately 925,000 members.




For further information:

For further information: Montreal: Claudia Martin, (514) 861-7111, ext.
3210, clmartin@caaquebec.com; Quebec City: Philippe St-Pierre, (418) 624-2424,
ext. 2418, pstpierre@caaquebec.com

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