Canadian drivers are more distracted than ever and they’re hypocrites about it

By: Jessica Mach on July 17, 2018

There are a lot of new technologies that purport to make it easier to simultaneously drive and use your phone, but one insurance company is doubtful that these innovations are actually helping to keep roads safe.

In spite of — or because of these innovations — nine out of ten drivers engage in risky behaviour whenever they drive, according to a new poll by market research firm Léger that was commissioned by AllState Insurance.  The poll surveyed more than 1,000 drivers in Quebec.

What counts as “risky” behaviour? According to Léger’s estimation, that would be anything that shifts a driver’s attention away from the road. And that includes most non-driving activities — even ones that don’t require drivers to use their hands.

Half of the drivers that engage in risky driving behaviour talk on the phone while they drive, via a hands-free function like a speakerphone, the poll said. Thirty eight percent of these drivers change the music playing in the car while driving, while 35% use a hands-free multimedia function to text or read emails.

Additionally, 25% use their hands to text, make calls, or take pictures with their phones, while 23% adjust their GPS while they’re on the road.

Multitasking looks to be more popular than ever. Even so, only a fifth of drivers — or 22% — told Léger that they felt like they qualified as distracted drivers, while 9% believe they never engage in risky driving behaviour at all.

Léger and AllState believe that the lack of self awareness about distracted driving can be credited to how new driving technologies — especially hands-free and assisted driving functions — make drivers feel safer than they used to. The cushion allegedly provided by these new technologies makes drivers feel safer about acting in ways that would otherwise be risky.

“We can't avoid new technology and the changes that come with it; and nor would we want to. Our cars are becoming safer,” says André Parra, regional claims director at Allstate Insurance Company of Canada.

“However, what we need to do is ensure it's being used properly, as opposed to creating more distractions for drivers.”