Texting & driving = high risk

It isn't rocket science! We all know that texting and driving is a bad combination. When you are driving while distracted, you will be prone to having more accidents.

A recent study released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, shows that the risk of crashes is greatly increased when operating a cell phone, compared to driving while not using a phone. This usage includes text messaging, listening or talking on the phone, or dialing.

It was found that when you are text messaging, you keep your eyes off the road for the longest periods of time - up to six seconds. Six seconds at 80 km/hr, is travelling more then 90 metres without looking at where you are going. If you are driving a truck or heavy vehicle, then you just increased your crash risk by more than 23 times!

California has a ban on texting while driving. Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, have cell phone bans. Other provinces are considering these bans. Strathcona County in Alberta has banned cell phone use while driving except for those driving with hands-free devices. Alberta does have a careless driving statue, where police officers can stop someone and ticket them for driving without due care and attention.

Some employers have firm no-phone conditions in place, for employees who are driving company vehicles. The consequences can be dismissal, if you are in an accident and on the phone, at the time it occurs. It is not uncommon to hear a voice message now stating, "If you are receiving this message it is likely that I am driving. Our company policy is that we do not use cell phones while behind the wheel. I will return your call as soon as I am able."

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is touring Canada with the D.U.M.B. Vehicle 2.0. This is a hands-on, fun, learning opportunity to experience the consequences of driving while distracted.

Saskatchewan is currently considering legislation to prohibit the use of hand-held devices while driving. British Columbia and Alberta are looking into a similar ban.

The insurance answer
You will be safer driving and paying attention to what is happening around you. Any distraction can create a collision risk. The Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation has released statistics showing that you are 23% more likely to be involved in a vehicle collision if you text and drive. Cell phone use increases your chance of an injury accident by four times.

Children's health is also a concern in Manitoba, the amendments to the Highway Traffic Act will not only ban handheld cell phone use and texting but will prohibit smoking in a vehicle when a child under the age of 16 years-old is present. These acts should be proclaimed into law by the first half of 2010. a child under the age of 16 is present.

So the fine of $190.80 will hit your pocketbook and the use of the cell phone and/or texting will also increase your chance of hitting or being hit by another vehicle. The hope is that the fines and increased awareness will reduce accidents, which will reduce claims and in the long run, insurance rates.

And I thought texting while driving was harmless…
(WARNING: graphic content)