We are finally getting some good news out of Canada regarding distracted driving – aka, texting while driving. Just the other day we reported that Calgary police were on pace to write 1,000 more tickets this year versus last – and the fines had jumped from $172 to $287 in May. They are entertaining the idea of adding demits, and even introducing jail time. Officer Stacey says, “Because of the change in government… and the processes involved we haven’t seen those demerits yet. However, we expect that by the new year, we will see those demerits in play.”
A new study conducted by Sean Tucker, an associate professor at the University of Regina, claims that in his study, co-authored by Simon Pek from Simon Fraser University, texting among teens while driving has dropped to 6-percent in 2014 – down from 27-percent in 2012. The findings are based on surveys from 6,133 teens in 2012 and 4,450 teens in 2014, mostly from Ontario. These findings are published in the November edition of the Journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.
In the study, they asked the teens why they stopped texting and driving – and their answers were relatively simple and make sense. It seems that teens are finally realizing that there are real dangers while texting – by noticing some narrow escapes or actually seeing an accident caused by texting and driving. They were also afraid of the fines associated with this distracted driving. Social pressures can have a huge impact on teenagers and Tucker says it is possible that driving while texting could hold the same stigma that drinking and driving holds. Maybe then, people of all ages will stop taking texting while driving so lightly.
Back in June, Ontario passed Bill 31 – Making Ontario Roads Safer Act – and it went into effect on September 1. Fines increased to $490 and three demerit points, with novice drivers possibly having their licenses suspended for a minimum of thirty days. In a study by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), 90-percent of the adults said they were against texting and reading messages, yet 22-percent admitted that is exactly what they do. This type of behavior is like an addiction – when those alerts go off, we have to look, read and text. We hope that with added fines and demerits, people of all ages will stop this dangerous practice.