Ottawa, ON (Mar. 3, 2017) – Distracted driving deaths have surpassed impaired driving deaths according to the latest fatality data from several Canadian jurisdictions. Nationally, distraction accounted for an estimated 25 per cent of drivers killed in fatal crashes in 2013. This troubling trend has made distracted driving a top road safety priority for governments and organizations across the country.
While a wide range of initiatives have been pursued by concerned stakeholders to tackle this pressing problem, there is an urgent need for a coordinated and comprehensive blueprint to effectively address it. To help fill this gap, the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving (CCDD) was formed to develop a National Action Plan, which was published today.
The Plan contains 15 action items organized according to four priority areas: education and prevention, enforcement, data and research, and technology and industry. It was designed to inspire and engage agencies concerned about distracted driving and provide them with tools to help reverse this trend.
“The plan was designed to harness the collective knowledge and learning that has been gained by many organizations,” said Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. “Transforming their experience into practical tools and resources that can be used by a much larger group of stakeholders can improve efficiency and affect outcomes on a larger scale.”
In developing the plan, the CCDD explored the diverse topics that play a role in distracted driving, including: driver behaviour, penalties, enforcement, education campaigns, devices and in-vehicle technologies, emergency medical care, auto insurance, the transportation industry and automated vehicles.
The components of the plan represent the most essential activities that can support the efforts of agencies with a vested interest in the issue, and help them meet their objectives more efficiently and effectively. In the coming months, the CCDD will produce the series of tools contained in the Plan, and convene discussions in key sectors to help agencies amplify efforts to reduce distracted driving.
An initiative of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, Drop It And Drive and The Co-operators, the CCDD is the first coalition of its kind in Canada. The multi-sectoral group includes members from various levels of government, enforcement, academia, health, industry and communities. Their expertise is varied, including road safety research, injury prevention and health care, policy, enforcement, education, as well as the insurance, automotive and trucking industries.
“As the insurer of more than a million vehicles throughout Canada, we see first-hand the toll of distracted driving and we are committed to taking action to address this problem,” said Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “That’s why we partnered with the Traffic Injury Research Foundation and worked as part of the CCDD to develop this set of practical recommendations to reduce the incidence of distracted driving and make our roads safer for everyone.”
Scroll down for the 15-point action plan. The entire report is available at tirf.ca.
National Action Plan – Action Items
Education & Prevention
- Create a fact-sheet that summarizes the research about effective behaviour change strategies, including habits and strategies to change them, to inform the development of distracted driving campaigns.
- Summarize key talking points that stakeholders can use with the public and the media to encourage the use of appropriate terminology to describe crash events.
- Prepare a fact-sheet for stakeholders to use as part of media communications to describe the facts about the size of the distracted driving problem, the consequences and the costs.
- Build a distracted driving repository of relevant information and an associated toolkit to share evidence-based practices that can be considered by stakeholders and shared with policymakers.
- Organize a working group of health practitioners to select feasible strategies to educate and engage health professionals in this sector to create health strategies to reduce distracted driving.
- Build partnerships with media outlets and journalists to enhance fact-based media coverage of distracted driving, beyond individual crashes, and share current knowledge and research about this issue.
- Establish a working group of knowledgeable practitioners representing licensing, law enforcement, and justice to explore options to strengthen legislation for distracted driving offences and promote a comprehensive array of strategies to change behaviour.
- Develop brief, educational materials for police agencies to increase awareness among officers about the risks associated with distracted driving and the importance of enforcement to change driver behaviour.
- Identify the most significant in-vehicle distractions that put officers at risk and create a practical policy to help them minimize distractions behind the wheel.
Data & Research
- Consult with enforcement, transportation and health agencies to explore the development of a standard, uniform definition of distracted driving for the purposes of data collection, as well as determine what specific types of distractions can be reasonably, reliably and consistently included in data sources. Practices to facilitate the reasonable collection of data will also be considered.
- Document the sources of distracted driving data that are publicly available, as well as the types of data that these sources contain in order to increase awareness of data collection initiatives and facilitate research activities.
Technology & Industry
- Facilitate the development of industry leadership, including vehicle and electronic device industries specifically, in concert with government consultation (as appropriate) to strengthen initiatives to track and safety test new features and products that will be widely used in vehicles to ensure they minimize distraction. Opportunities for technology providers to proactively block distractions and develop technology solutions will also be discussed.
- Convene a meeting of insurance industry representatives to identify opportunities to improve data collection and tracking of distracted drivers, and to properly assess the risk posed by these drivers.
- Develop a concrete business case that illustrates the costs to employers associated with distracted driving. Supplementary actions to support the business case will include compiling available information, tools, materials, templates and resources to guide, support and inform the development of reasonable workplace distracted driving policies.
- Organize a working group that represents industries with employees that are more prone to distraction to develop practical policies that balance safety and productivity. Vehicle manufacturers can play an important role in this working group to help mitigate distractions.
About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation
The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. TIRF is an independent, charitable road safety research institute. Since its inception in 1964, TIRF has become internationally recognized for its accomplishments in identifying the causes of road crashes and developing programs and policies to address them effectively. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.
About The Co-operators
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $44 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products.
The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean’s magazine. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.