Toronto Sun image of a driver using an iPhone behind the wheel

Distracted driving (Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun illustration)

Distracted driving is a major public safety issue.

It’s the No. 1 killer on our roads today. But most Canadians think governments are barking up the wrong tree on this issue.

For the first time, we have a national opinion survey that shows Canadians don’t think social persuasion or law enforcement strategies against distracted driving are working.

Despite the Ontario government’s announcement this week that distracted Ontario drivers causing death can be fined $2,000-$50,000 (once legislation is passed), drivers who witness others texting behind the wheel every single day just don’t believe increased fines will work.

Aviva put the question to Canadians through a national public opinion survey conducted by the research firm Pollara Strategic Insights.

Four-in-five Canadians believe only a technology solution that blocks drivers from using texting and other phone messaging functions while driving — not peer pressure or law enforcement — will ultimately solve the problem. And keep in mind, 95% of Canadians polled say the amount of texting and driving they see on the roads makes them feel less safe.

The consensus toward a technology solution is building.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the Apple iPhone, the new iPhone 8 offers a text-blocking tool for drivers — “Do Not Disturb While Driving.”

The new iPhone can detect when you’re driving and block incoming calls, texts and notifications. Your screen will also stay dark. If the feature is activated, your phone can send an automatic customized response to those trying to reach you.

If it’s an emergency, the sender can text urgent to by-pass the function. In terms of making and receiving calls — a key safety feature for all drivers — this function remains operating.

The Aviva Canada survey of 1,504 Canadians — conducted Aug. 8-13 — is considered accurate within 2.5%, 19 times in 20. The findings include:

  • 88% of Canadians have witnessed other drivers texting while behind the wheel.
  • 22% of respondents admitted texting while driving themselves, including at stoplights or stop signs.
  • Only 48% of Canadians think fines and demerits are a deterrent.
  • Only 32% said they think peer pressure will work.
  • Almost 4-in-5 Canadians — 78% — said they want to see insurance companies, auto manufacturers and governments work toward a technology solution that would stop distracted driving by disabling texting and other functions while the driver is behind the wheel.
  • 73% of Canadians said they would use anti-texting technology while driving if it was made available to them.

We can all do more to bring an end to the tragic accidents which occur on our roads almost every day. It’s time we all worked together to find a solution that makes driving safer — and less distracting — for everyone.

— Isotta-Riches, Chief Information Officer, Aviva Canada Inc.

Source: Toronto Sun