Over the past years, almost all Canadian provinces and territories have revised their laws concerning distracted driving. All of them have significantly increased the fines associated with these infractions, in recent years.
Although drunk driving is widely acknowledged as dangerous, distracted driving is often underestimated in terms of potential seriousness. However, distracted driving has become increasingly dangerous in certain areas of Canada, particularly in Edmonton.
Some important information about distracted driving and steps you can take to ensure your safety and that other drivers are as follows:
Understanding Distracted Driving
Distracted driving occurs when drivers get distracted because they focus on something else. Some examples of distractions include texting or calling, eating or drinking, and using the entertainment or navigation system.
The risk of a collision rises when a driver’s eyes and attention are taken off the road. This is because distractions impair a driver’s performance and reduce their awareness. They become slower in noticing hazards and less capable of responding safely to critical events on the road, leading to potentially dangerous situations.
Distractions are the major cause for around 20-30% of motor vehicle collisions. Many drivers think of distracted driving as using cell phones or mobile devices. However, a distraction is anything that can take your attention away from driving. An interesting fact: talking on the phone while driving can slow your reaction time by nearly 20% when braking for vehicles ahead.
Transport Canada’s National Collision Database data shows that distracted driving was a factor in around 21% of fatal car collisions and 27% of serious injury collisions in 2016. These statistics show a growing trend of collisions related to distracted driving, with an increase from 16% of fatal car collisions and 22% of serious car injury collisions a decade earlier.
Common Forms of Driver Distraction
One of the most common distractions for drivers is using mobile phones, including texting while driving. This means taking your attention away from the road to interact with the phone, greatly increasing the risk of accidents.
Another common distraction is eating, drinking, or being engaged in other tasks requiring taking your hands off the steering wheel. These actions divert your focus from driving, making it harder to react quickly.
Cognitive distractions also play a big role in driver distraction. This happens when your mind is occupied with thoughts or tasks that do not involve driving. Daydreaming, having intense conversations, or being lost in personal problems are cognitive distractions that make it harder to pay attention and react in time.
Drivers need to know about these common distractions and take proactive steps to minimize or avoid them while driving. By doing this, we can greatly improve road safety for everyone.
Consequences of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving has serious results, including:
Increased Risk of Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths
Distracted driving makes accidents, injuries, and deaths more likely. When drivers get distracted, they can’t react quickly or make good choices, increasing the chances of an accident.
Drivers cannot identify potential hazards and react when not paying attention to the road. They might miss sudden changes in traffic, people crossing the street, or cars stopping in front of them. This slower reaction time makes accidents more likely.
Additionally, distracted drivers may have reduced capacity to make good decisions while driving. Their thinking and judgment can be affected, leading to bad choices in important situations. They might misjudge how fast other cars are going or how far away they are or not follow the good traffic rules. These actions make accidents more dangerous and can cause serious injuries or even death.
It’s really important to understand the serious results of distracted driving and to focus on driving without any distractions. When drivers stay focused and pay attention, they can reduce the danger and make the roads safer for everyone.
Financial, Legal, and Insurance Problems for Drivers
Distracted driving can lead to big financial, legal, and insurance problems for drivers. When drivers get distracted, they can face different financial burdens and consequences. These include:
Fines, Prohibitions, and Legal Issues
Distracted driving is against the law in many places, and drivers caught doing it can get fined and penalized by the authorities. The fines can differ depending on where it happens and how bad it is. On top of the fines, distracted drivers might also have to deal with legal issues, including losing their ability to drive for a period of time and even facing criminal charges.
Higher Insurance Rates
Distracted driving incidents can make drivers’ insurance cost more. Insurance companies see distracted driving as risky, so they raise the insurance prices for drivers involved in these incidents. This can make insurance more expensive and pressure drivers’ finances, making it harder for them to afford insurance.
Cost of Repairs, Bills & Legal Fees
Distracted driving accidents can damage cars, which can mean expensive repairs. Additionally, people can get hurt in these accidents, leading to big rehabilitation bills for things like going to the hospital, getting treatment, or doing rehabilitation. If legal help is needed because of the accident, drivers might also have to pay legal fees, adding even more financial stress.
Impact On Victims And Their Families
Distracted driving accidents can deeply affect the emotions and minds of the people involved and their families.
The emotional toll can be severe and long-lasting when these events result in severe injuries or fatalities. The victims and their families may suffer severe damage. The sudden and unexpected nature of these accidents can leave lasting emotional scars. Besides physical injuries, victims of distracted driving accidents can face severe emotional challenges. They may feel helpless, depressed, anxious, scared, or a combination of the above.
The Role of Personal Injury Lawyers in an Edmonton Car Accident
Personal injury lawyers specialize in guiding people who have been in car accidents. They know a lot about these cases and can provide important assistance.
Personal injury lawyers deeply understand the laws related to car accidents. They know how to handle the complicated legal system and can help their clients navigate it.
After a car accident, a personal injury lawyer will stand up for the victims and protect their rights. They represent the victims throughout the legal process and ensure their best interests are handled.
These personal injury lawyers guide car accident victims through all the legal steps they need to take to get compensation. They handle the paperwork, collect evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies. This takes a lot of pressure off the victims so they can focus on getting better.
They fight to get fair compensation for their clients. They assess all the damages the victims have suffered, like rehabilitation bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and damage to their property. They use their expertise to build strong cases and negotiate settlements. If needed, they can also represent their clients in court.
Car accident victims can feel more at rest knowing they have someone to fight for their rights and ensure they receive the just financial compensation by engaging a personal injury attorney.
Combating Distracted Driving in Edmonton
On September 1, 2011, distracted driving became a ticketable offense. Meaning drivers can be fined for engaging in such behavior. From January 1, 2016, breaking the distracted driving law incurs a $300 fine and three demerit points on the driver’s record. If drivers display even riskier behaviour, they can be fined for careless driving, which carries a fine of $402 and six demerit points.
It is illegal to talk, text, or send emails on a handheld phone while driving, including in drive-through lanes. Operating electronic devices like video players and laptops, manually programming GPS units or portable audio players, reading or writing, and engaging in personal grooming are also prohibited.
Drivers can use hands-free mobile devices activated with a single touch or voice commands. They can also eat snacks, drink a beverage, smoke, or talk with someone (passenger) while driving.
It’s important to note that having a pet occupy the front seat or sit on the driver’s lap can lead to distracted driving charges if the driver appears too focused on the pet. Additionally, a driver can be charged if a pet obstructs their clear vision or interferes with their access to vehicle controls and safe operation.
To report distracted drivers, please avoid calling 911 unless there is a major risk and the driver behaves erratically. Instead, report them to your local Community Station, but only if you can identify the driver or vehicle and testify as a witness.
Emergency personnel (fire, EMS, police) are exempt from using handheld devices during duty. Calling 911 for emergencies or reporting impaired drivers under Curb the Danger program is allowed while driving, even with distracted driving laws.
Be a responsible driver. Stay focused, avoid distractions, and obey traffic rules. Your commitment to safe driving sets a positive example for others. Remember, each action counts! Together, we can create a safer road environment.
If ever you got caught in a car accident in Edmonton, find reliable legal representation for your case in Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers. Our skilled lawyers in Edmonton will fight to protect your rights, navigate the complex legal processes, and seek the compensation you deserve. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial challenges you may be facing, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.