Cellular phones have been omnipresent in our lives for several years now. People use them at any time of day, while engaged in all manner of activities—including, unfortunately, driving. Despite the fact that the use of handheld cellular devices while at the wheel of a vehicle is now banned in Quebec, many people ignore the law and use their phone’s text-messaging function while driving.
A study conducted in late December 2010 and early January 2011 by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) revealed that texting while driving is one of the road behaviours that most irritate Canadians. Meanwhile, in July 2011, a study by the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) showed that almost all respondents (99%) consider reading or writing text messages to be “fairly” or “very” dangerous. Quebecers do seem to be well informed about the issue, but are they truly aware of the risks involved?
Although no Quebec-based research into the subject has so far been conducted, several studies in the United States and Europe have demonstrated unequivocally that texting while driving is an extremely dangerous practice. One of them reveals that a truck driver who texts while at the wheel is 23 times likelier to be involved in an accident than a driver who is properly focused on the road. This alarming statistic is proof of the danger of this practice. Other sobering studies and polls lead to the conclusion that driving and texting do not mix (see the sidebar for details).
CAA-Quebec and Michael Schumacher team up against texting while driving
On June 9, 2011, CAA-Quebec, the CAA, the Fédération internationale de l’automobile (FIA) and La Ronde (Montreal) joined forces to raise public awareness of the risks of texting while driving. The event marked the Canadian launch of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety. For the occasion, Formula One race car drivers Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa climbed into the CAA-Quebec driving simulator to show that even for the world’s best drivers, texting while at the wheel is risky business.
A few minutes after entering the simulator, Schumacher had an “accident” while texting.
Massa, meanwhile, committed three traffic violations while using a cellular device.
Before a crowd of journalists, neither driver needed persuading to warn the public of the risks related to texting while driving.
View the event
View our video: Driving + texting = Danger!
CAA-Quebec stand at the F1 Grand Prix in Montreal
At the most recent Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, members of the public could try out the CAA-Quebec driving simulator and see for themselves the effects of texting while driving in a safe environment.
Race fans were invited to get behind the wheel of the simulator and text at the same time. Afterward, many admitted that they now understood the importance of always keeping both eyes on the road while driving.
Many motorists remain under the impression that driving is an activity they can engage in while also paying attention to other tasks. This is a false impression. Driving is a demanding activity requiring heightened concentration—this is the only way of ensuring that one is constantly aware of road obstacles and what other drivers are doing.
What if your phone rings while you’re driving? Don’t answer it. Let your voice mail answer for you; it’s infinitely more safe! Just one second’s distraction can shatter many lives, including yours. If you must take the call, make sure you pull off the road and stop in a safe location.