There are many different sources of driver distraction, for example: smoking or vaping, using a smart phone or GPS, and eating and drinking. Drivers also tend to be more distracted during certain times of the year, week and day.
Although technology can be of great help to drivers, some technologies go too far and become significant sources of distraction.
Some vehicle technology is designed to increase safety, such as collision avoidance systems or lane departure warning systems, and many cars are now equipped with such technology. These systems help drivers by warning them about potential dangers on the road, thereby increasing their safety. Such technology has become more widely available and is no longer offered only in luxury vehicles.
However, these same vehicles are often equipped with other technology that can distract drivers. Smart phones, which are ever more powerful and sophisticated, can now connect directly to vehicles, and feature touch screens where music, videos and GPS systems are right at one’s fingertips.
It is difficult to estimate the number of cases of distraction at the wheel. Nevertheless, we can state that it is the cause of many accidents.
There are 4 types of distraction:
Distraction can affect more than one function at a time. Oftentimes, a task performed while driving is the source of many types of distraction. For example, sending a text is a source of cognitive, visual and manual distraction.
Research shows that sources of distraction are varied and numerous.
A 2021 survey showed that the most common sources of distraction are daydreaming, cell phones, and passengers and animals in the vehicle.
The survey also showed that nearly one in eight drivers (13%) was often distracted or very often distracted when driving. The 2020 survey revealed that 83% of respondents admitted to having gotten distracted at the wheel, and 98% recognized that anyone can get distracted at the wheel.
The afternoon (from noon to 5:59 p.m.) is the time when the most accidents resulting in bodily injury due to distraction occur. Accidents occurring due to distraction are also more frequent at the end of the week (Thursday and Friday) and from June to September. These accidents occur more often in favourable driving conditions (e.g. good weather, dry roads).
Accidents due to distraction occur most often on main roads and numbered roads, often at intersections, and are more frequent on roads where the speed limit is 50 km/h.
A survey conducted in 2017 on behalf of the SAAQ revealed that:
Distraction is one of the causes most often mentioned by police officers with regard to accidents involving cars and pedestrians or cyclists.
Using a cell phone or any other screen or electronic device makes you as vulnerable as pedestrians and cyclists, and can also make you a danger to other unprotected road users around you.
Last update: August 11, 2023