Keep your eyes on the road!

National Road Safety Week
May 15 - 21, 2012

OTTAWA – Driving is, to many Canadians, a daily part of life. It can also be dangerous at the best of times, since a motorist has to take into account both their own actions, as well as those of motorists around them. Increasing the risk and a serious issue facing Canadians is distractions to the driver. The upcoming months of June, July and August historically have the highest fatality and injury rates each year.

May 15th marks the beginning of National Road Safety Week and, whether you operate a car, a motorcycle, a scooter, a bicycle, or a pair of sneakers, it is of vital importance that your focus is always on the road. Increased vigilance and concentration could save lives.

Interacting with traffic is often the most dangerous thing a person will do over the course of an average day. However, many people treat it as a secondary task, choosing instead to focus on using their electronics, grooming, or even reading the newspaper on their morning commute. A study commissioned by TheSteelAlliance and Canada Safety Council demonstrated that 80 per cent of drivers admitted to multi-tasking while behind the wheel.

One particularly deadly driver distraction is sending a text message while behind the wheel. As cellular devices become more widely used and more legislation is implemented to deal with the hazards they might cause, it remains important to understand that even a quick text message can lead to severe consequences.

On average, a driver’s eyes move away from the road for 4.6 seconds at a time, over a six-second interval, while sending a text message. This distraction results in a much higher collision risk: a driver sending a text message is 23 times more likely than a non-distracted driver to get in a collision. If you absolutely have to send that message, pull over when it is safe to do so before beginning to type, or else wait until you have arrived at your destination.

An important by-product of driver distraction to keep in mind is the danger it causes to vulnerable road users. Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, among others, are much more likely to face potential injury or death when involved in a collision. Statistics show that roughly 25 per cent of road user fatalities or severe injuries involved a vulnerable road user, with 553 fatalities and 3,275 serious injuries in 2009 alone.

It is very important for all drivers to be aware of their surroundings at all times. The extra few seconds of distraction brought on by answering a phone call or by programming a GPS device can give a driver less time to react to any possible eventualities. You are more likely to be involved in a collision if a distracting activity takes your eyes off the road.

Canada Safety Council urges you to make driving your first priority. Limiting distractions could give you that extra second you need to make a life-saving decision, and can go a long way towards making Canada’s roadways a safer place.

For more information, please contact:

Lewis Smith    Communications and Media Coordinator   (613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)
Raynald Marchand   General Manager – Programs         (613) 739-1535 (ext. 226)