As we dealt with in a recent article, ICBC, while seeking another rate hike, blatantly and unjustly, shifted the blame for needing more money onto personal injury lawyers. By going on the attack ICBC didn’t have to defend against allegations of mismanagement, bloated salaries, or the Government’s appropriation of millions of dollars of its profits. When that line of attack didn’t fly, ICBC more properly raised a real issue of concern, pointing the finger at distracted drivers, particularly cell phone users.
There is no doubt that cell phone use while driving, particularly texting, is a major distraction and serious driving hazard. Texting is particularly alarming because it removes the driver from all three crucial driving focuses: visual (taking eyes off the road), manual (taking hands off the wheel) and cognitive (taking mind off the task). ICBC relies on a 2009 study involving truckers (Virginia Tech) claiming that drivers while texting are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. Further an Ontario Transportation study indicated that users talking on a cell phone while driving, were 4 times more likely to be involved in a collision than a non-distracted driver.
Despite being illegal, drivers continue to use these handheld devices.
The CAA estimates that driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year. It stands to reason the correlation between texting and vehicle collisions is high. However, there are many other distractions to drivers beside cell phone use – things such as adjusting the seat or seatbelt, checking the rear-view or side mirror, eating, drinking, grooming, fiddling with controls, smoking, reading (maps etc.), writing, talking, external distractions.
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association recently conducted a first-ever study involving family driving habits. The results were staggering. With the aid of
hidden video cameras, the researchers’ found that driver interaction with children in the rear seats was highly distracting, In fact, the driver took his/her eyes off the road 12% more often than with other potential distractions, including talking on a cell phone (1%). During a 16-minute trip, the average parent took his/her eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds (21% of the time). Surprisingly, fathers were distracted for longer periods than mothers with things such as viewing the children in the rear-view mirror, turning around to look at them, talk to them, break up squabbles, hand out food or drink, reach for something, or calm fussy babies.
Clearly, driving with children presents an unavoidable risk. But we simply can’t ban them from our vehicles. No driver can ever be free of distraction. We all have a duty to stay focused not only our own driving, but be mindful of other drivers who may be distracted. Keep ourselves and others safe and always drive defensively.
D. Glenn Einfeld is a highly knowledgeable and experienced BC personal injury lawyer and BC motorcycle accident lawyer who has successfully litigated many ICBC claims and other insurance claims, including out of province claims, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury, whiplash, soft tissue injury, and all other serious injury claims.