Ontario drivers feel new cell phone legislation should be tougher

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Sept. 22 /CNW/ - The majority of Ontario drivers feel the new Ontario legislation banning the use of hand-held devices to talk, text or email while driving doesn't go far enough, according to a recent RBC Insurance/Ipsos Reid survey. With the new law scheduled to come into effect this fall, more than half (58 per cent) of Ontario drivers agree that hands-free devices are just as dangerous as hand-held devices and should be included in the new law. Sixty nine per cent believe the Ontario government should also ban drivers from eating while they drive.

"It's clear that many drivers are aware of the risks and are willing to make changes to obey the new law," said François Boulanger, head, home and auto, RBC General Insurance Company. "However, it's important to remember that all distractions are dangerous and alternatives such as using a headset, earpiece or voice activated device should be used with caution as well."

While most (95 per cent) Ontario drivers agree that driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone is dangerous and 71 per cent strongly support the proposed law, the degree of support varies by age. Only 57 per cent of drivers between the ages of 18-34 strongly support the legislation compared to 72 per cent of drivers between the ages of 35-54 and 83 per cent of drivers over the age of 55.

Once the law comes into effect, 85 per cent of wireless device owners without a hands-free device claim they will abide by the new law and will either pull over to use their wireless device (48 per cent) or wait until they reach their destination before they e-mail, text or make a call (37 per cent). However, the remaining 15 per cent indicated that they will continue to use their hand-held device while driving despite the new law.

Here are Boulanger's top three tips for drivers to keep in mind:

    -   If you're using a hand-held device, wait until you are stopped at a
        safe location to make a call rather than pulling over to the side of
        the road
    -   When using a hands-free device, keep conversations short so that your
        focus stays on the road
    -   Ensure your earpiece or headset is securely in place before starting
        your car to prevent any fumbling with these devices while driving

These are some of the findings of an RBC Insurance/Ipsos Reid survey conducted between April 13 and April 17, 2009. This online survey of 876 Ontario drivers was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online panel. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual Ontario population according to Census data. With a representative sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within +/-3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About RBC Insurance

RBC Insurance provides a wide range of life, health, travel, home, auto, business and reinsurance products, as well as creditor insurance services to more than five million North American customers. Its fast growing home and auto insurance business offers Canadians a comprehensive range of personal home and auto insurance products through direct sales channels, including over the phone, the Internet, retail insurance branches, as well as through group insurance plans. RBC Insurance also offers a premier claims service, available 24/7, to help clients when they need it most. For more information, please visit www.rbcinsurance.com.

SOURCE Royal Bank of Canada

For further information: For further information: Margie McNeil, RBC Insurance Communications, (905) 606-1425, margie.mcneil@rbc.com; Andre Roberts, RBC Corporate Communications, (416) 974-3180, andre.roberts@rbc.com

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