BC drivers are using their phones less while driving according to BCAA survey
July 16, 2010
A recent online survey conducted by the British Columbia Automobile Association offers a "good news/bad news" story for the recently implemented distracted driving law and provincial road safety.
The good news is that almost all drivers surveyed are aware of the new law. The vast majority of those who previously talked or texted while driving now use a headset, pull over to use their phone, or stopped using a mobile phone altogether.
The bad news is that survey respondents said they continue seeing others use their phones while driving, and feel the likelihood of being caught for doing so is low. The survey was conducted online via BCAA’s website and monthly newsletter between June 22 and July 9, with 7,576 drivers participating.
Of the two-thirds of drivers who said they talked on a cell phone while driving before the January 1st law, 84 per cent said they did so using a hand-held phone. And of those drivers who used a hand-held phone before January 1st, 21 per cent said they have switched to hands-free, 35 per cent said they now pull over to make or take a call, and 28 per cent said they have stopped using a phone while driving altogether.
Nine per cent said they were using a hands-free device before the law and continue to do so. Only six per cent said they still talk using a hand-held phone, but most do so less than before the law. “It appears that most B.C. drivers are getting the message that using a hand-held communications device while driving is distracting and dangerous,” says Trace Acres, BCAA’s Director of Corporate Communications and Government Relations.
“It is particularly encouraging to see the significant number of drivers who either pull off the road to make or take a call, or are no longer using a phone at all.”
On the flip-side, 77 per cent of survey respondents said they still observe other drivers talking on a hand-held phone more than once a week, and 37 per cent said they see drivers texting on a hand-held device more than once a week. In addition, three-quarters of those surveyed said they feel the chances of being caught for texting or talking on a hand-held while driving is either unlikely or very unlikely.
“Some drivers, it seems, are still willing to risk the safety of themselves and others, and risk getting caught for the sake of making a call or sending a text,” adds Acres. “Although the risk of getting caught for using a hand-held is perceived to be low, BCAA is confident that as more offenders are caught and word gets out, more will think twice before reaching for their hand-held device.”
- Before January 1 2010, 16 per cent of those surveyed texted while driving. After January 1, of those who previously texted while driving, 51 per cent they no longer do so, and 32 per cent said they pull over to read or send a text. 18 per cent said they still continue to text while driving, but do it less frequently.
- Reading a book or newspaper and text messaging were cited by survey respondents as the most dangerous driver distractions followed by personal grooming, talking on a hand-held phone and a pet sitting on the driver's lap.
- A majority of survey respondents think the government has done a good job of publicizing the distracted driving law. 59 per cent said they feel the government's efforts to inform and educate drivers about the law have been effective or very effective.
54 per cent said the government's efforts to educate drivers about the dangers of talking using a hand-held device has been effective or very effective.
BCAA shared the results of the survey with police, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles for their review in assessing enforcement and opportunities for continued public education and awareness.