Do you ever text or make calls while driving? Read emails while stuck in traffic? According to a 2013 study conducted for the SAAQ (in French only), 99% of Quebecers think it’s dangerous to read or write a text message while behind the wheel of a car, while 79% of them think it’s dangerous to talk on the phone while driving.
Yet, many Quebec drivers still use their mobile device while driving. If you or any of your loved ones do this, here are 8 facts that you should know about the risks involved and the potential impacts on your Auto Insurance.
1. Mobile device use while driving impairs driving ability
- the field of vision
- the ability to analyze and react to situations and unexpected occurrences
- the ability to carry out basic tasks such as staying in the lane, driving in a straight line or maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles.
2. It increases the risk of collisions and accidents
According to a 2010 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. That is not surprising, since texting involves taking your eyes off the road for 4 to 6 seconds, and 80% of automobile collisions occur after only 3 seconds of driver inattention.
3. It could cause your Auto Insurance premiums to increase
The premium is calculated based on such factors as your driving record at the Automobile Claims Database (FCSA), which catalogues all automobile losses you incurred over the last 6 years, whether or not a claim is filed. So, using your cell phone while driving increases the likelihood of an accident and that of a premium increase.
4. It could lead to an $80 to $100 fine and 4 demerit points
Even if it is not in use, you should never have your cell phone, tablet or laptop in your hands while driving. This prohibition applies from the moment that your vehicle is on the road, even if you are stuck in a traffic jam, stopped at a traffic light or immobile for any other reason.
5. Hands-free mode is not really a safe solution
Even if you are keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, a telephone conversation is source of distraction that greatly reduces your driving attention. So, even though hands-free mode is tolerated, you are advised to avoid using your cell phone while driving.
6. The only safe way to use your cell phone in the car is… to put the car in park!
If you absolutely have to take the call or answer the text, pull over at an appropriate place, such as a rest area or a shopping centre.
Except in case of an emergency, the shoulder is not an appropriate place for you to stop, and stopping on the shoulder is prohibited on highways where the posted speed limit is over 70 km/h.
7. There are easy ways to resist temptation
- Turn off your mobile device before getting behind the wheel.
- Ask your passengers to answer your calls and text messages.
- Install the SAAQ’s Focus Mode mobile application and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
8. You can make a difference!
- Inform your kids and those close to you of the risks of using a mobile device while driving. Give them the facts and the statistics issued by the SAAQ. A text message is never so urgent that it’s worth risking your life and the lives of others!
- Place a “Non aux textos au volant” (No texting and driving) awareness sticker, available for free at SAAQ service outlets, on your rear window (available in French only).