Canadian drivers texting while driving on the rise: poll

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Ottawa, May 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) announces the release of a new fact sheet, Road Safety Monitor 2019: Distracted Driving Attitudes and Practices, 2004-2019. It summarizes trends in attitudes about, and practices related to, distracted driving based upon data from the Road Safety Monitor (RSM) conducted by TIRF, with sponsorship by Beer Canada and Desjardins. The results reveal a concerning increase in the percentage of drivers reporting texting and driving.

Almost 1 in 10 Canadian drivers (9.7%) reported texting while driving in 2019. This represents an increase over 2018 when 7.5% reported doing so, and a 102% increase compared to 2010. Talking on a handheld device while driving also increased to 11.7% from 9.3% in 2018, however, talking on a hands-free device decreased from 36.5% to 32%.

“Further to 2018 RSM results showing drivers’ concern about texting while driving had decreased slightly, this new fact sheet provides an important update of these results based on 2019 RSM data,” affirms Ward Vanlaar, Chief Operating Officer of TIRF.

The 2019 RSM showed age was a significant factor in the likelihood of driving while distracted. For every 10-year increase in age, drivers were 44% less likely to text, 38% less likely to use a handheld phone and 28% less likely to use a hands-free phone. Males were 62% more likely than females to use a handheld phone and 50% more likely to use a hands-free phone.

“While age and sex may be stable predictors of distracted driving, when considering the estimated numbers of Canadian drivers engaging in the behaviour, it is clear distracted driving is common regardless of age and sex,” adds Craig Lyon, Senior Research Scientist at TIRF. “This means the demographic least likely to engage in texting and driving (i.e., females aged 45 and older) still accounted for an estimated 172,309 drivers on our roads.”

Equally concerning, more Canadians self-reported talking on their hands-free phone while driving in 2019 compared to 2010. While this form of distracted driving may be less impairing than texting, it can still place significant cognitive demands on drivers and take their attention away from the primary driving task. Lyon concludes, “TIRF continues to monitor this issue to ensure robust data are available to inform education and awareness efforts.”

Download Fact Sheet in English and French:

About the poll:
These results are based on the RSM, an annual public opinion poll developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 1,200 Canadians completed the poll in 2019. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 2.8%, 19 times out of 20. The majority of the questions were answered using a scale from one to six where six indicated high agreement, concern, or support and one indicated low agreement, concern or support.

About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation:
The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. TIRF is an independent, charitable road safety research institute. Since its inception in 1964, TIRF has become internationally recognized for its accomplishments in identifying the causes of road crashes and developing programs and policies to address them effectively.

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For more information, please contact:

Karen Bowman
Director, Marketing and Communications
Traffic Injury Research Foundation
250-797-0833 (cell)
613-238-5235 (office)
1-877-238-5235 (toll-free)
613-238-5292 (fax) /