By now, you’ve probably heard that driving and cell phone use don’t mix. The Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research reports that driver distraction is responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of traffic collisions, and cell phone use is a form of mental distraction. Other research has found that cell phone use during driving increases the risk of motor vehicle crashes four times and doubles the risk of rear-end collisions.
How does cell phone use affect driving?
Cell phone use adversely affects driving ability in a few ways. For example, a 2002 Transport Canada study notes that when drivers use cell phones, their mirror and periphery (left/right) inspection decreases. Talking on a cell phone also increases the chances of missing red lights, according to other data.
Inattention and slow reaction time
Elderly drivers often get tagged as being slow behind the wheel, but findings from the University of Utah showed that a 20-year-old driver on a cell phone has the same reaction time as a 70-year-old driver without a cell phone. Younger drivers on cell phones had a 17 percent slower reaction time in hitting the brakes, which was comparable to that of older drivers.
Does the hands-free option help reduce risk?
Not exactly. Study data shows that regardless, using a cell phone while driving reduces slows the driver’s reaction time by 18 per cent.
Is it against the law?
It depends where you live. In Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, it’s now illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving. A similar law is currently being weighed in Alberta and Manitoba. In BC, a province-wide ban on all cell phone use while driving including hands-free is under consideration. Ontario passed legislation in 2009 that bans the use of cell phones and other electronic communication devices for talking or texting while driving, but allows hands-free devices.
How it affects insurance rates
Cell phone use won’t affect your insurance rates per se, but if you receive a ticket where there’s a ban in place, expect higher premiums.