Behaviours – Distractions

Did You Know?

There are many different sources of driver distraction. The most common ones are smoking and using a smart phone or GPS, followed by eating and drinking. Drivers also tend to be more distracted during certain times of the year, week and day.

The two sides of technological development

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, such as wireless communication devices. Smart phones, which are ever more powerful and sophisticated, can now connect directly to vehicles, and feature touch screens where music and videos are right at one’s fingertips.

Distracted driving is one of the main causes of accidents with bodily injury that is the most often-mentioned by police officers

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:

  • visual: eyes off the road
  • manual: hands off the wheel
  • cognitive: mind off the task (the most difficult to assess)
  • auditory: listening to things that are not connected to driving or the road (for example, listening to a phone ringing or music playing)

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.

Most common distractions at the wheel

A survey on distracted driving and seat belt use conducted from 2007 to 2015 shows that sources of distraction are varied and numerous.

In 2015, the survey also showed that the most common source of driver distraction is the use of a cell phone (telephone and texting) (17%).

The survey also shows that nearly one out of every ten drivers was distracted when travelling (in 2015, 9.66%).

Source: Enquête sur la distraction au volant et le port de la ceinture de sécurité 2007-2015 (PDF, 828 KB) (in French only)

When does distraction cause the most accidents?

Time

The hours between noon and 5:59 p.m. are those during which the most accidents resulting in bodily injury due to distraction occur.

Source: Detailed profile of facts and statistics regarding distracted driving (PDF, 2.3 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards., 2012.

Days

The average daily proportion of accidents resulting in bodily injury due to driver distraction is:

  • 11.4% on weekends (Saturday and Sunday)
  • 14.2% at the beginning of the week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday)
  • 17.2% at the end of the week (Thursday and Friday)

Source: Detailed profile of facts and statistics regarding distracted driving (PDF, 2.3 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards., 2012.

Months

July and August are the months during which the most accidents resulting in bodily injury due to distraction occur (over 10%).

Summertime (May to September) is the period during which percentages peak: more than 50% of accidents resulting in bodily injury due to distraction occur during these months.

Source: Detailed profile of facts and statistics regarding distracted driving (PDF, 2.3 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards., 2012.

How do Quebecers perceive distracted driving?

A survey conducted in 2017 on behalf of the SAAQ revealed that:

  • 97% of adult Quebecers consider that distracted driving is a very serious or quite serious problem
  • 87% are of the opinion that Québec drivers are very often or quite often distracted
Useful information

9% of Québec drivers admit to being distracted at the wheel

Assessing one’s level of distraction is not easy, as it is difficult to be objective. This is why only 9% of drivers admit to being very often or often distracted. Should we assume that 91% of drivers refuse to see themselves as part of the problem?

Pedestrians and cyclists: keep your eyes and ears open!

Distraction is one of the causes most often mentioned by police officers with regard to accidents involving cars and pedestrians or cyclists.

Warning

Do you use a wheelchair? Be cautious!

Using a cell phone or any other screen or electronic device makes you as vulnerable as pedestrians and cyclists.