A young driver sits behind the wheel with a cellphone in one hand.

More than a third of Canadians have admitted to using their cell phones while stopped at a red light in the last month, according to a new CAA poll.

James W A Morris Insurance Group Inc. in Cambridge would like to take this moment to remind drivers about the importance of safe driving – and, in so doing, encourage Ontario’s drivers to be aware of certain habits that are known to jeopardize a driver’s attention.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation compiles on an annual basis statistics and figures that represent the status of road safety for the province through something called Ontario Road Safety Annual Reports (ORSAR). Even a cursory look into any of the yearly reports is troubling. In fact, the compiled figures related to fatalities, injuries and property damage right here in Ontario is staggering. For instance, figures shown in the 2014 ORSAR indicate that the “total drivers involved in fatal and personal injury collisions” was 64,202!

With that in mind, please take a moment to review eight common driving distractions, because distracted driving has been shown to be a factor in one in four accidents.

  1. Cell phones: Using your phone or texting while driving is sure to interfere with your concentration. For safety’s sake, make it a practice to put the phone aside until you’ve pulled over and stopped.
  2. GPS/navigation systems and maps: The use of navigation systems can be mesmerizing and is bound to interfere with your attention as a safe driver. The better way is to plan your route before setting out, and prepare alternate routes just in case.
  3. Food and drinks: Many drivers eat and consume beverages when behind the wheel — particularly with easy access to drive-throughs — but it’s far safer to finish eating before you get on the road again. Overly hot or spilled coffee is notorious as a distraction.
  4. Radios and music systems: This is fairly straightforward. Plug in your MP3 or tune in to your favourite station and set the volume before starting out.
  5. Personal grooming: That rearview mirror can serve a number of purposes, but it should be used for the safe operation of your vehicle. If you’re “on the go,” stop at a public restroom or at your destination for your grooming needs.
  6. Passengers and kids: It’s worth every effort to get kids settled before hitting the road. As for other passengers, try to keep conversation to a well-managed minimum.
  7. Dashboard controls, mirrors, windows, doors and locks: Making sure everything is properly adjusted before you start driving is actually a standard in driver training programs and for licensing. It remains an important practice for good reason. If you have a co-pilot, put that person in charge of comfort controls like air conditioning.
  8. Out-of-reach items: Easy enough — just plan ahead by making sure that your sunglasses or tissues are in easy reach before you drive.

Safe driving is important to everyone. That’s what defensive driving is all about: developing safe driving habits so that you always arrive at your destination safely.

Source: Cambridge Times