Risks and Solutions

Distraction is normal and human. However, the human brain is not meant to carry out multiple complex tasks at once. At the wheel, distraction occurs when you turn your attention from driving to concentrate on something else. However, driving is a complex task that requires all of your attention! A call, a text message, a notification, changing the song, however important—these things will never be as important as your safety or that of others.

The dangers of using electronic devices while driving

Using an electronic device while driving considerably increases the risk of an accident.

It has been scientifically proven!

At the wheel, using an electronic device:

  • reduces the driver's ability to analyze a situation and react
  • increases the adaptation time required to maintain a safe distance between vehicles
  • makes it more difficult to perform tasks that appear simple and mundane, such as driving in a straight line and keeping the vehicle in the centre of the lane
  • reduces the driver's ability to avoid obstacles: potholes, cyclists, pedestrians
  • reduces the driver's field of vision

It has been statistically confirmed!

For a more concrete idea of the dangers of using an electronic device at the wheel, go to our section entitled Did You Know?

It's basic math!

When you text and drive:

  • your eyes are away from the road for 4 to 6 seconds. Try closing your eyes for 4 to 6 seconds (but on your sofa, please!) ... it’s a long time! At 90 km/h, this is like travelling the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Hands-free devices are not recommended. They are merely tolerated.

Even if their use is authorized, hands-free devices are not a safer option and are not recommended, as the simple act of talking on the phone or making a voice command is a source of distraction.

If you do use a hands-free device, we recommend that you solidly mount your phone on a support device. The phone must not interfere with driving manoeuvres or prevent any equipment from working properly (e.g. an air bag), and it must not pose a risk of injury in the event of an accident.

Distraction is not only caused by cell phones

Screens aren’t the only source of distraction at the wheel! Anything that catches your attention is a distraction. There are 4 types of distraction that can ultimately pose a risk to driving:

  • cognitive: your mind isn’t focused on driving (mind drift, daydreaming)
  • visual: your eyes aren’t on the road (looking at the time, checking a GPS, etc.)
  • manual: your hands aren’t on the wheel (unwrapping a sandwich, lighting a cigarette, etc.)
  • auditory: you’re not listening to things happening on the road (you’re distracted by a loud discussion between passengers, a favourite song, children fighting or a baby crying in the back seat, etc.)

Distraction can affect more than one ability at a time. Oftentimes, a task performed while driving is the source of many types of distraction.  

Solutions when you’re at the wheel

Create good habits to reduce your risk of getting distracted at the wheel. For example, before hitting the road:

  • take time to eat, drink or smoke;
  • pick a radio station or playlist;
  • set your GPS or check your map to know which route to take;
  • make sure that any children or pets in the vehicle have everything they need for the trip;
  • reduce the number of ways that your electronic devices could distract you;
  • consider putting your smart phone in “do not disturb” or “focus” mode (you can also turn it off or place it out of reach);
  • make important calls and send important texts and emails;
  • plan a rest break to check your messages;
  • ask a passenger to answer your calls or read and write your text messages.

Remember that the calls, texts and notifications you receive are probably not urgent. If they are, park your vehicle before answering them.

Where is it safe to stop?

You can stop at a safe place such as the parking lot of a rest area or shopping centre, or even on the side of the road where you are authorized to do so. The shoulder of a highway is a safety corridor reserved for emergency situations and is not an appropriate place to check or use your device!

Villages-relais are another option where travellers are offered a full range of services.

Last update: July 14, 2023