Using your phone while driving? How to resist the temptation

March 11, 2022

Image of hand holding a smart phone with icons for possible distractions

We all know that using your phone behind the wheel is dangerous. It doesn't double your risk of crashing, or triple it, or even quadruple it. It quintuples (5x) your chances of getting into a crash that could severely injure or kill you, your passengers and those around you. But even though you know it's risky, it may be hard to resist the temptation of grabbing your device while on the road. Here are three reasons why you may think it's OK to use your phone while driving, and how to resist the urge:

1. You think you're a good multitasker

A lot of us think we're good at multitasking, but that's not how our brains work. Instead of doing multiple tasks at the same time, we actually just switch back and forth from one task to another — and that switching always takes time. No matter how confident you are in your own driving ability, keep in mind that you share the road with other drivers who may not be as confident or skilled. A dangerous situation can pop out anytime and you must always be ready to deal with it.

So the next time you're tempted to grab your phone while driving because “you can handle it," think about the potential hazards around you. What if the car in front suddenly stops? What if the next light turns red sooner than you thought? What if you're at an intersection and a heavy truck runs a red light while you're driving through? What if something or someone gets in your way? When you've got a split second to avoid an expensive and possibly deadly crash, you need every bit of focus you can get. Remember that the choices you make on the road can end up saving or ending lives.

2. You're short on time

We've all had days where there were more things to do than we had minutes to do them. If you drive the same route every weekday for several years or more, it's tempting to think you can go on autopilot and squeeze some extra productivity or entertainment out of your driving time. But every day brings more chances to get into a crash, and these chances only get higher when you're distracted behind the wheel. Time is precious, so think about all the time you could lose if you end up with a totaled vehicle or worse.

If there are things you must get done immediately, do them before you start driving. If you listen to music, radio, podcasts or audiobooks, get it going beforehand so you don't fidget with your device on the road. Other ways to stay safe include setting your phone to Do Not Disturb and keeping it out of sight, out of mind.  

3. You've got money to make

If driving and phone use are both big parts of your job, you might think of a distracted driving fine as just a cost of doing business. However, even if distracted driving doesn't get you into an expensive and possibly deadly crash (which it always can), the costs will still add up. With increased enforcement throughout B.C., too many infractions could end up making your wallet end up making your wallet hundreds, or even thousands of dollars lighter— per year! The bottom line: risking your life to answer a call or text is never worth it. Remember that even if you are not using it, holding your phone while driving can distract you and get you ticketed.

If you must stay connected while driving, use a hands-free system that lets you always keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. Avoid looking at or interacting with any screens so that you can focus on driving safely.  

Don't become a victim of distracted driving

Since 2016, more than one in four fatal crashes on B.C. roads have involved distracted driving. An Ipsos survey done on ICBC's behalf found that although 93% of B.C. drivers think distracted driving is highly risky, 42% admitted to using their phones while driving. No matter how tempting the distractions might be, remember that your safety, your passengers' safety and the safety of those you share the road with should always be your top priority. Distractions add up, and looking away from the road for even a fraction of a second can cause irreversible consequences. Please drive responsibly and know the facts about distracted driving.​