8 in 10 Canadians Admit to Having an “Inadvertent Lead Foot”

Driver perceptions versus actions suggests it’s time for a national conversation on safe-driving habits: new Onlia study finds we are a nation of speedsters

Toronto, ON (Nov. 4, 2019) – An overwhelming number of Canadians believe themselves to be excellent drivers, yet unsafe behaviours prevail on our roads: so finds a newly released study hosted on the Angus Reid Forum, entitled Onlia Safety Index.

The study was commissioned by Onlia, a new brand that offers a suite of tech-driven safety products including: Onlia Sense™, an app that coaches and rewards Canadians for driving safely, digital car and home insurance, and on-demand roadside assistance.[1]

“This research found some eye-opening gaps between how Canadians feel principally about safe driving versus what their actions indicate,” says Alex Kelly, transportation expert and road safety consultant to Onlia. “It was interesting to see, for example, that 88 per cent of drivers would give themselves an A or A+ for their driving skills, yet 80 per cent admit to speeding due to an ‘inadvertent lead foot’.”

Aside from speeding, the most-common self-admitted driving faux pas, according to the Onlia Safety Index study, was: road rage (30 per cent), followed by not checking blind spots as often as necessary (22 per cent).

The study’s findings are reaffirmed by an analysis[2] of anonymous user data from a segment of drivers using Onlia Sense™, Onlia’s safe-driving app. This app uses a revolutionary coaching approach based on nudge theory and behavioural economics. It helps users proactively develop safer driving habits while earning rewards for improved driving behavior, based on insights that rewards are effective at creating positive behavior change.[3] Eighty-nine (89) per cent of Onlia Sense™ drivers analyzed recorded instances of speeding while using the app – a 10 per cent increase over self-reported insights. Moreover, for many new Onlia Sense™ drivers, their average drive score on the app falls into the B/B+ category – indicating a clear discrepancy from self-reported driver behaviours and actual results as determined through telematics technology.

According to the latest statistics available from Transport Canada, in 2017 there were 1,841 road fatalities, and 9,960 serious injuries necessitating hospital admittance,[4] causing an ongoing physical, emotional and economic burden on Canadians. Yet research shows that the majority of road traffic injuries and fatalities are preventable.

“Research has shown that over 90 per cent of road collisions are a result, at least in part, of human error,[5] and these findings highlight why it is so important for us to create national awareness and conversations about safe-driving habits”, says Kelly. “In tandem with other road safety measures, such as the Vision Zero safe systems approach, improved driver behavior can have a significant impact on increasing road safety for all road users and decreasing the rate of injuries and fatalities as a result of road collisions”.

The great news is: three quarters of Canadians (75 per cent) believe a mindset shift can help change otherwise frustrating commuter traffic experiences; and, Canadian drivers’ have some impactful tools that they can start using immediately to make a difference for everyone on the roads, including the Onlia Sense™ app, which is available for free to all Canadians via their preferred app store.

“Our anonymous data shows drivers who are using the Onlia SenseTM app are indeed improving driver safety,” says Pieter Louter, CEO, Onlia Canada. “We see a trend of improvement in their average overall score over six months of using our app,[6] and that is music to our ears, bringing us closer to our commitment of making Canada a safer place for everyone. By coaching and rewarding Canadians for safer driving, our hope is to make Canada’s roads the safest in the world.”

In addition to regularly using the Onlia Sense™ app to monitor real-time safe driving behaviour, Kelly says, drivers can take small steps to habitually improve their awareness and proactively manage their driving skills. She offers the following five safety-conscious driving tips to Canadians:

  1. Whenever possible, leave early to get to your destination
  2. Resist the temptation to speed, even if everyone else on the road is doing so
  3. Put your phone on airplane mode or “Do not Disturb” before driving
  4. Create a habit to remind yourself to check blind spots
  5. When feeling stress, take deep breaths, listen to music or podcasts, that can help to reduce road rage


1. From October 4th to October 7th, 2019 an online survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,014 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, the sample plan would carry a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

2. Analysis was conducted on an anonymized sample of 9969 active Onlia Sense™ users’ driving data between the period of June 2018 to October 2019.

3. Rewards androad user behaviour: An investigation of the effects of reward programs on safetybelt use (PDF).

4. Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics (2017).

5. Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society blog: Human error as a cause of vehicle crashes, by Bryant Walker Smith (Dec. 18, 2013).

6. Data presented is within a 95% confidence threshold.

About Onlia

Onlia Holding Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiaries Onlia Agency Inc. & Onlia Services Inc., offers innovative digital insurance and a mobile app to the Canadian market. Onlia’s mission is to create a community around making Canada a safer place, and to provide tools and motivation to facilitate safer behaviours. Launched in 2018, Onlia is a joint venture between Achmea Canada Holding Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Achmea B.V. the largest insurance group of the Netherlands, and Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, a Canadian holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and investment management. Using proprietary and award-winning technology, Onlia is rethinking the way Canadians approach safety and insurance. Join the community at Onlia.ca.

SOURCE: Onlia Holding Inc. via DDB Public Relations

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