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Road Safety

Distractions that kill

Every year, four million car accidents that take place in North America have one thing in common: distraction. According to a study that analyzed where drivers were looking, all it takes is two seconds of inattention to significantly increase the risk of a collision. Texting alone creates a 23-fold increase in the likelihood of being in an accident, or at least coming close to one. But even apart from text messages, there are many causes of distraction that represent a real, sometimes fatal, danger.

Are you distracted?

If you’re the type of person who picks up every little thing that falls while you’re driving, you’re distracted. If you get involved in animated conversations with your passengers when you’re behind the wheel, you’re distracted. If you adjust the heating, the A/C, the radio, your mirrors while driving… Get the idea? Distraction behind the wheel can take many different forms, and they don’t always involve a cell phone. What’s more, distraction while driving is a problem that affects all age ranges: even the most experienced drivers have trouble avoiding the pitfall of distraction. From the moment your attention strays from driving your vehicle, you run the risk of making a mistake that could prove fatal.

Troubling behaviour

In Quebec, the law is clear: the use of any type of hand-held device with a telephone function is prohibited while driving, even if that function is turned off. Simply having the device in your hand is an infraction, regardless of what you’re using it for. It’s not for nothing that this law was passed: studies have shown that drivers focused on their cell phones are as dangerous as drunk drivers! But where it gets worrisome is that 33% of respondents to a 2011 survey conducted by Léger Marketing confessed to disobeying the law: these recalcitrants continue to talk on their cell behind the wheel, phone in hand. Similarly, 17% of respondents to this same survey admitted to reading and writing text messages while driving. It’s a frightening thought!

Other attention-diverting (but, sadly, all-too-common) distractions include eating and drinking, applying makeup, unfolding and looking at a road map… the list goes on. Obviously, dealing with children or animals is one of the main sources of distraction, as is repeatedly looking at your navigation system.

The solution? Prevention!

At 100 km/h, a vehicle is moving a little more than 27 metres per second. And a lot can happen in 27 metres! That’s why it’s so important to avoid distractions. To do so, there’s no cure better than prevention. Eating and drinking, planning your route, adjusting the controls and tuning the radio before you leave are simple, effective steps. As well, stopping in a safe place to use your cell phone, deal with children or consult your map could save a life. Think it over!

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