The Deadly Consequences of Distracted Driving (and What You Can Do to Help)

The Deadly Consequences of Distracted Driving (by John McKiggan Q.C.)

More Than 3000 Distracted Drivers Every Year
Police in Halifax report that they issue more than 3000 traffic tickets every year to drivers who are distracted by their cellular phones. Despite the vigilence shown by HRPD it is not hard to imagine that these numbers signify just the tip with the iceberg. How many times have you been driving down the street and seen someone talking on their cell phone, or engaging in some other type of ditracting behaviour.

According to police distracted driving is one of the key reasons behind many fatal car collisions.

Significant Contributors to Fatal Car Accidents
RCMP have stated that there are 4 key contributing factors to most fatal car accidents.

  • Driving under the influence;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Aggressive driving; and
  • Driving at excessive speeds.

There have always been people who drive too fast or drive when they have had too much to drink. But in my work as a car accident injury lawyer I have seen a significant increase in recent years in accidents caused by some form of distracted driving.

Distracted Driving an Increasing Problem

The rising popularity of text-messaging – in addition to the other text-based transmission products and services available on cellular phones ( for example BBM-ing, Facebook messaging and emailing ) is that there has been a corresponding increase in the number of car collisions and fatal accidents caused or contributed to by drivers distracted simply by their cell phones.

Many Potential Distractions
In the hustle and bustle of our day to day activities sometimes we try to “multi-task” when we are driving. For example, how many times have you tried to juggle your morning coffee and breakfast bagel on your drive to work?

We may think that we are able to pay attention to more than one task at a time. But it’s important to remember that when you are driving you are:

  • Operating a machine that weighs thousands of pounds at high rates of speed;
  • Driving across changing road conditions;
  • Constantly calculating and changing your speed and distance from other vehicles; and
  • Adjusting to other drivers, turn signals, and traffic signs.

Do you really want to engage in such a potentially dangerous activity without giving it your full attention?

Majority of Drivers Are Distracted
According to research conducted by Traffic Injury Research Association and Transport Canada the majority of Canadian drivers admit to engaging in distracting behaviour while driving.

Distraction Can Be Deadly
The Canadian Automobile Association has published statistics indicating that 80% of auto collisions and 65% of near collisions were caused or contributed to by some form of driver distraction.

For example, in one year alone RCMP in British Columbia attributed 104 traffic deaths to distracted driving.

Several Factors Behind Driver DistractionAlthough texting and cell phone use is a significant contributor to driver distraction, just 18% of distracted driving fatalities are because of cell phones.

The remaining 82% are due to a number of other disruptions, such as:

  • Eating and drinking while driving;
  • Hair brushing or putting on make-up;
  • Reading instead watching the road;
  • Adjusting a GPS unit or navigation system; and
  • Changing the channel on the radio or adjusting an ipod.

The Reality Is That Any Time You Take Your Eyes Off The Road You Are Distracted And That Distraction Can Lead To Accidents, Injuries Or Death.

Cell Phones In Cars = Huge Increase In Risk
The Canadian Automobile Association has published research showing that drivers distracted by talking on a cellular telephone are four times more likely to be in a car crash. Drivers who are distracted by texting while they are driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash or a near miss.

Football Field
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has published a report that states:

“At highway speed, a driver sending a simple text message travels the length of a football field without looking at the road.”

Reading or typing a text message requires drivers to look away from the road for an average of 4. 6 seconds. If you are driving at 100 km/hr your car will travel nearly 140 meters.

Distracted Driving = Drunk Driving?
Most of us would never consider driving drunk. Although the majority of us, every so often, have engaged in distracting beviour while driving that impairs our reaction time as much as, or worse, than driving drunk.

Scientific studies show that talking on a cellular phone while driving affects ones reaction time to the same degree as having a blood-alcohol content of .08, the limit to be legally impaired.

End Distracted Driving
I have dedicated the last 22 years to my work as an injury lawyer in Nova Scotia. I have personally seen the terrible consequences of distracted driving. But the consequences of distracted driving were brought home to me in a far more personal way when I met Dianne Anderson and Joel Feldman the founders of EndDD.org.

Dianne and Joel’s daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver while she was walking across an intersection. Dianne and Joel started a non-profit organization called EndDD.org so that other families would not have to go through the same sorrow they have experienced.

As a result, I now volunteer for EndDD.org giving presentations to local schools, parent-teacher associations, civic groups and community organizations with the goal of educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving.

What Can You Do?
If you would like more information about EndDD.org or would like to arrange for a presentation at your school or community group please contact us for more information.

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