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​​​​​ICBC: Drivers using their phones more during pandemic

September 1, 2021


A recent U.S. study found one in four drivers think roads are safer today than they were before the pandemic, yet a growing number of respondents reported using their mobile devices in unsafe ways while driving, including texting or emailing, checking social media, taking videos and pictures, and even shopping online.

Although a similar study has not been conducted in Canada, ICBC has also found an increase in self-reported phone use for drivers. An Ipsos Reid survey conducted for ICBC (May 2021) found almost all drivers (93 per cent) believe texting while driving is risky, yet 40 per cent admit they still use their phone at least one out of every 10  trips.

More than one in every four fatal crashes on B.C. roads involve distracted driving, which is why police and ICBC continue to educate and enforce this dangerous driving behaviour that claims 76 lives each year.*

This month, drivers will be hearing one message – leave your phone alone when you're behind the wheel.

Police across B.C. are ramping up distracted driving enforcement during September, and community volunteers are setting up Cell Watch deployments to remind drivers to leave their phones alone. The campaign also features radio ads, digital advertising and social media.

Distracted driving is the second leading contributing factor in traffic fatalities in B.C., behind speeding and ahead of impaired driving, and is the top contributing factor in police-reported injury crashes.

ICBC is dedicated to helping all British Columbians stay safe on the road. For more information, check out tips and statistics on ​icbc.com.

Quotes:

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

“The responsibility for safe driving resides with you, the driver. There is no excuse for distracted driving, no reason to check our phones that outweighs the safety and well-being of British Columbians. We need to prioritize safety over convenience when driving and that's why police across B.C. are supporting ICBC in seeking distracted drivers this month."

Chief Neil Dubord, Chair of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“Distracted driving is completely preventable, yet it remains one of the leading causes of injury and fatality crashes in BC. That's why police across the province continue to stress that when you are behind the wheel, focus only on the care and control of your vehicle and passengers. There is no call, text or GPS adjustment that is worth the senseless injuries and deaths caused each year by inattentive driving. Police are focused on enforcing B.C.'s distracted driving laws and removing unsafe drivers from our roads. Violation tickets in B.C. include fines and points against your licence. So when you drive, stay safe and focused on the road, and avoid the costs to all of us from distracted driving." 

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC's Vice-President Public Affairs & Driver Licensing

“Any activity that takes away your focus on the road is a distraction, but using electronic devices, like smart phones, is one of the most common and riskiest forms of distracted driving. Safer roads start with every driver making a conscious decision to focus on the road and leave their phones alone. Let's all do our part to create a safer driving culture in B.C." 

Regional statistics*:                

  • Every year, on average, 25 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, on average, nine people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, on average, 29 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, on average, 14 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Police data from 2016 to 2020. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.