We have all been there at one time or another, dealing with a distracted driver on a cellphone, texting, eating, screaming at their kids in the back seat. Since I started moto commuting two years ago I have had several close calls due to this type of behaviour. You have seen my rants on a few occasions. In 2010 BC passed a law about distracted driving & electronic devices. In the Province of Bristish Columbia it is the 3rd leading cause of death, according to ICBC stats. In BC on average 94 people a year die resulting from MVI involving distracted drivers. $10 billion dollars is lost annually in Canada due to distracted drivers involved in a collision in healthcare costs and lost productivity, that equals 1% of our GDP.
In 2009 the BC Provincial Government did a traffic study on this subject and one of the stunning things they found out is that a driver with an electronic device in their car fails to process 50% of the visual information in their driving environment. That is a scary finding. It takes a split second of inattention when driving for things to go very wrong in a hurry. Driving is one of the most complicated things we do and requires full cognitive attention to process all of the things coming at us at any one given time when we are in control of a vehicle. You generally have mere seconds to make decisions about evasive manoeuvres or corrections when driving.
Distracted driving isn't just about electronic devices being used in the car, it's also about the drivers who eat & drink, are fatigued, dealing with kids and pets in the car environment, personal grooming such as applying make-up or shaving (I've seen both), reaching for objects, reading and other mundane tasks of daily living that we take into our cars.
Last month police in BC issued 5,514 violations for distracted driving and the number of violations is up from 2012, police issued 4,000 last year. Young drivers between 16 and 24 are the highest risk group for distracted driving due to technology i.e. cellphones because they are more likely to use the cellphones with texting and messaging. The fatality rate in this age group is approximately double to that of other drivers. This makes this age group particularly vulnerable and as parents we need to bring this message home to our kids to #Drop It And Drive.
Tomorrow I along with two other road safety advocates will be on Cfax 1070 AM discussing distracted driving.