A recent Ipsos survey on behalf of RBC Insurance reveals that Quebeckers are least likely to consider other drivers using a cell phone while on the road (either to talk or text) an annoyance. 55% of Canadians consider this a ‘pet peeve’ while only 43% of Quebeckers with a driver’s licence think it’s an annoyance. Cell phone usage while driving tops the list of ‘pet peeves’.
Other annoyances (in order) include tailgating/following too closely, not indicating lane changes or turns, cutting drivers off, frequent braking for no reason, driving too slow, speeding, misuse of the passing lane (hogging the left lane), failing to yield fo merging traffic and pets on drivers lap.
Could this mean that cell phone usage while driving is less of a problem in Québec? Or are Quebeckers simply more tolerant or perhaps less aware of the risk? Hard to say.
Some related statistics
The number of cell phone subscribers in Canada rose from 100,000 to more than 27 million between 1987 and 2013. Almost three quarters of Canadian households indicated that they have a cell phone, and half of all phone calls made in Canada are now wireless.
Canadians also exchange approximately 270 million text messages and 2.2 million multimedia messages every day. (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association)
Offences related to cell phones and driving in Québec
Since July 1, 2008, 271,080 offences related to using a cell phone while driving have been entered on SAAQ records following notification of a conviction:
- 11,485 in 2008
- 42,617 in 2009
- 48,944 in 2010
- 56,730 in 2011
- 63,945 in 2012
(Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, Direction des études et des stratégies en sécurité routière, October 2013.)
Quebecers' perceptions of risk and behaviours
A survey conducted in November 2012 on behalf of the SAAQ revealed that:
- 99% of Quebecers consider that writing or reading a text message while driving is relatively or very dangerous;
- 18% of drivers who use a cell phone admit to sometimes texting while driving;
- 67% of drivers who text at the wheel stated that they were unable to keep themselves from reading the text message, even when they are driving;
- 35% of them cannot keep themselves from responding in this situation;
- 84% of Quebecers consider that talking on a cell phone while driving is relatively or very dangerous;
- 50% of drivers who use a cell phone admitted that they sometimes talk on a cell phone while driving;
- 18% of them do it quite or very often;
- 28% use mainly a hand-held device;
- 56% use a “hands-free” system;
- Almost all respondents (97%) know that it is prohibited to use a hand-held cell phone while driving a vehicle.
The Québec government has been running a campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with cell phone usage while driving. The research report on the most recent campaign in 2013 suggest that awareness is not the main issue. Behaviour is the problem.
An excerpt from the report available in French only (a translation follows):
Quant aux messages textes, il arrive à 19 % des conducteurs qui utilisent un téléphone cellulaire de texter au volant. Cette habitude est étonnante quand on considère que presque 80 % de ces conducteurs reconnaissent que leur risque d’avoir un accident est accru lorsqu’ils textent, qu’au cours des 12 derniers mois, 30 % reconnaissent qu’il leur est arrivé de conduire de façon erratique dans ce contexte et 1 % a été impliqué dans un accident. Près d’un conducteur sur cinq qui texte en conduisant a été l’objet de comportements d’impatience à un feu rouge attribuables à leur utilisation de la messagerie texte au volant.
[19% of those using a cell phone use it to text while driving. A surprising fact considering that almost 80% of these drivers acknowledge the increased risk of an accident and that, in the past year, 30% say they drove erratically as a result and 1% were involved in an accident because of it. One in five say they made other drivers impatient while texting at a red light.]
Here’s one of the most recent TV spots urging drivers to teach people to wait for your answer. “It won’t kill you” to do so.