Summer Road Safety and Distracted Driving

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Summer Road Safety and Distracted Driving

Beautiful Muskoka is home to 60,000 permanent residents, 100,000 seasonal residents and welcomes more than 2 million visitors per summer. With the beautiful landscape, scenery and community it is no surprise that Muskoka draws in so many homeowners and tourists.

However with the summer months fast approaching and the population more than doubling, our roads become a larger hazard. It is important that everyone on the road is driving with care, caution and attentiveness.

Here is some information on things to consider while driving this summer and information on distracted driving.
Things to Consider

Increased Traffic: With residential and tourisms rates climbing in the summer months, roads and highways in Muskoka become increasingly busier. Make sure to plan ahead for traffic delays and be aware of the extra traffic on the roads. 

Pedestrians: Especially on warm days there is an increase in those individuals who are choosing to be out and about walking. These areas of residential, shopping and recreational are most important and will have more pedestrians, so it is important to be aware of those who are walking. 

Two-Wheeled Vehicles: also increase in popularity in the spring and summer, so keep an eye out for motorcycles and bicycles and share the road. Bicyclists have the same rights as other vehicles on most roads. In particular, watch out for motorcycles and bicycles at intersections and in your blind spots when you are turning, passing or merging. 

Road Work: Spring is often the time in which road work and construction near roads begins or resumes so expect delays and speed reductions. Pothole repairs, highway maintenance and other road repairs may slow your drive and, quite possibly, tax your patience. Stay calm, slow down and be aware of the conditions around you. Be especially careful driving through work zones. Increase your following distance and avoid distractions. 

Wildlife: Deer, moose, turtles, bears and other wild animals become more populous in the spring and, as the warmer weather brings animals out of hibernation. Be alert for wildlife in the road, and slow down so you can stop safely if animals are on or near the roadway. 

What is Distracted Driving? 

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety1. These types of distractions include: 

  • Texting – you are 23 times more likely to crash while texting and driving 
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone 
  • Eating and drinking 
  • Talking to passengers 
  • Grooming 
  • Reading, including maps 
  • Using a navigation system 
  • Watching a video 
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player 

The Three Main Types of Distraction 

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road 
  2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel 
  3. Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

  

Some Statistics 

  • Cell phones are one of the most common distractions for drivers. Drivers engaged in text messaging on a cellular phone are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2010). 
  •   
  • 84% of distracted-driving-related fatalities in the US were tied to the general classification of carelessness or inattentiveness (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009). 
  • Distracted drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers (Alberta Transportation, 2011). 
  • Driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year. 
  • International research shows that 20% to 30% of all collisions involve driver distraction (Alberta Transportation, 2011). 
  • Taken your eyes off the road for 5 seconds at 90kmph is like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded. It's extraordinarily dangerous!

The Odds 

  • Text messaging (or texting) on a cell phone — 23 times more likely 
  • Talking on a cell phone — 4 to 5 times more likely 
  • Reading — 3 times more likely 
  • Applying makeup — 3 times more likely 
  • Reaching for a moving object — 9 times more likely 
  • Dialing on a hand-held device — 3 times more likely 
  • Talking or listening on a hand-held device — 1.3 times more likely3 

Be Safe! Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving 

  • Stop to eat or drink. 
  • Pull over to a safe place to talk on the phone, or send text messages or emails. 
  • Plan ahead – have your routes planned out and your GPS preprogrammed before heading out. 
  • Pull over to care for children. 
  • Keep your vehicle clean – keep as much clutter in the trunk as you can to avoid being distracted by objects. 
  • Talk to your teens about distracted driving – teens are the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes. 

http://www.ibc.ca/on/auto/risk-management/distracted-driving 

Sources: 
1 “Facts and Statistics.” U.S. Department of Transportation, http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html

2 "Three main types of distraction.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Distracted_Driving/index.html
 

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