Canadians increasingly concerned about distracted driving: poll

    OTTAWA, Aug. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - A new poll by the Traffic Injury Research
Foundation (TIRF) shows that Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned
about distracted driving.
    In 2001, only 40 per cent of Canadians considered distracted driving a
serious problem. Results from this new poll show this number has risen to
almost 70 per cent.
    "Canadians used to be much more concerned about drivers using cell phones
than they were about other distractions," says Ward Vanlaar, a research
associate for TIRF. "While concern about cell phone use has remained steady
over the years, concern about other distractions has dramatically increased."
    One reason for the increased concern may be a perceived increase in the
amount of distracted driving. As compared to five years ago, 95.5 per cent of
Canadians now believe there is more distracted driving on our roads. Also,
recent publicity campaigns on distracted driving may have made them more
sensitive to the issue.
    "Some drivers eat and drink behind the wheel, others read maps, some play
with the car stereo, while others spend too much time admiring the landscape
around them," says Vanlaar. "Distractions like these - both inside and outside
the vehicle - divert your attention from driving and elevate your risk of
being in a collision."
    Among the various distractions, the poll revealed that external ones -
events and objects outside the vehicle - posed the biggest threat for drivers.
    While only 9.5 per cent of Canadians had to steer or brake to avoid a
collision due to an internal distraction, some 20.2 per cent had to do so
because of a distraction outside the vehicle. Similar results have been found
in other research.
    The poll also found that distraction inside the vehicle posed a
significantly higher risk for younger drivers. Canadians aged 16 to 24 were
much more likely than their older peers to have steered or braked to avoid a
collision due to an internal distraction.
    "Young drivers need to be especially careful with internal distractions,"
says Vanlaar. "Even when they are not distracted, younger drivers have an
elevated collision risk - internal distractions can elevate this risk even
    New drivers who use cell phones were also singled out in the survey.
Eighty per cent of Canadians agreed that new drivers should be restricted from
using cell phones while driving.
    The poll revealed that the number of Canadians who use their cell phones
while driving is increasing. Some 37 per cent of drivers admitted to using
their cell phone behind the wheel during the last seven days. In 2001, this
number was only 20.5 per cent. In this regard, male drivers and young drivers
aged 16-34 are more likely to report using their cell phone while driving.
    Despite the rise in cell phone use while driving, Vanlaar says there
appears to be a trend toward lower usage time. He notes that compared to 2001,
more people are making shorter calls.
    In terms of public support for actions to control driver distraction, 80
per cent of Canadians supported greater awareness and education efforts.
    "It's hard to ban distracted driving as the problem manifests itself in
so many different ways," says Vanlaar. "Increased awareness and education
efforts can be quite useful; the more we encourage Canadians to focus on their
driving, the better."

    About the poll:

    Results of this poll appear in The Road Safety Monitor 2006: Distracted
Driving, available at
    A total of 1,201 Canadians completed the poll. Results can be considered
accurate within plus or minus 2.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
    Financial support for this report and other reports in The Road Safety
Monitor series comes from Transport Canada, the Brewers of Canada, and Toyota

    About TIRF:

    Established in 1964, TIRF's mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths
and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute -
TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based
on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants,
contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. More information
about TIRF can be found at:

For further information:

For further information: Dean Morin, Manager, Marketing &
Communications, Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), (613) 238-5235 ext.
304 (office),,

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Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF)

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