TORONTO – September 20, 2012 – This morning, high school students across the country had the opportunity to witness distracted drivers first-hand through Allstate Insurance Company of Canada’s Action Against Distraction campaign. In seven cities from coast to coast, these teens spotted a total of 1,985 distracted drivers during rush hour, which served to start a national conversation about solutions to distracted driving.
Allstate Canada agents in 12 cities also did similar counts at busy intersections within their communities and found an additional 1,826 distracted drivers for a total of 3,811 distracted drivers on Canadian roads during just one hour this morning.
“Despite legislation, it is clear that Canadians are still driving distracted, and this is a problem as we know 80 per cent of collisions are caused by distracted driving,” says Saskia Matheson, spokesperson for Allstate Canada. “We recognize that we have a responsibility to teach young drivers safe habits that will last a lifetime. We need to do what safety campaigns for seat belts did years ago and make the risks and consequences of distracted driving understood by everyone so that our unsafe behaviours can change.”
Legislation that makes it illegal to talk and type on the phone behind the wheel has been passed in all provinces, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. “Recent research outlines that while any kind of distraction makes driving more dangerous, reading and writing texts is the most deadly,” says Matheson. “A study in the US has shown that talking on the phone will increase your risk of a crash by four times and texting increases it 23 times.”
While cell phone use is a major distraction, it is not the only activity putting Canadian drivers at risk as this morning’s tally revealed.
Key findings from the driver tally
- A total of 1,985 distractions were found by students in Sarnia, Peterborough, Montreal North, St. Catharines, Moncton, Toronto and Laval.
- Allstate Canada employees counted 1,826 distracted drivers in Sherwood Park, AB; Niagara Falls; Hamilton; Burlington; Mississauga; Brampton; Scarborough; Whitby; Kingston; Ottawa; Boucherville, QC; and Montreal South Shore.
- The most common distraction was drivers talking to other passengers in the car, accounting for 22 per cent of all distracted driving behaviours in all 19 cities.
- Eating/drinking was the next most common distraction at 20 per cent, followed by smoking at 15 per cent. Observers also commented that a number of drivers were distracted by dogs sitting in their laps.
- 17 per cent of all drivers were either talking on the phone or texting while driving.
- Complete results from the distracted driving events can be found here bit.ly/Allstate2012tallies.
To help deliver the safety message to youth across Canada, Allstate Agencies are also working with local partners such as police services and high schools to provide in school presentations on the dangers of distracted driving.
Allstate Canada launches contest for students to develop solutions for distracted driving
Allstate Canada took the lead on educating Canadians about the dangers of distracted driving with the launch of the Action Against Distraction campaign in 2010. “Today as part of the ongoing Action Against Distraction initiative we’re launching a contest called Just Drive Canada that encourages students to be a part of the solution as well,” says Matheson. “Car collisions are the number one cause of death among Canadian teens, so it’s important that we make new drivers aware of the problem, bring them into the conversation, and give them an opportunity to develop solutions to distracted driving.”
High school students across Canada are invited to upload video, audio or an image of their solution to distracted driving to the contest website by November 2, 2012 for a chance to win cash prizes for themselves and their schools. MuchMusic VJ Phoebe Dykstra is partnering with Allstate Canada as a judge for the contest, to help bring more awareness about the dangers of distracted driving to teens. For more information, visit www.justdrivecanada.ca.
Allstate Canada is also urging teens and parents to sign the Action Against Distraction online pledge at www.goodhandsadvice.ca/distraction and make a promise not to drive distracted.
To view photos of today’s events from across the country, please visit www.flickr.com/AllstateCanada. Also, follow the Just Drive Canada conversation on Facebook and Twitter @JustDriveCanada and #justdrive.
About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of Canada’s leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products. “The Good Hands Network®” enables consumers to contact Allstate Canada through one of 91 community-based Agencies, directly online at www.allstate.ca and through the Customer Contact Centre at 1-800-Allstate. Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates. This year, Allstate Canada celebrates 25 years of partnership with MADD Canada in the effort to protect us all from impaired driving. In 2010, Allstate Canada, in partnership with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), created the Allstate All-Canadians program, a mentorship program designed to create future community leaders through the sport of hockey. Learn more about this program at www.allcanadians.com. To learn more about Allstate Canada, visit www.allstate.ca.