British Columbia

B.C. motorists say texting while driving is risky

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. says a new survey shows nine in 10 people believe texting or emailing while driving is one of the most dangerous things drivers can do, but some people still admit doing it.

But about nine per cent still admit to doing it

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. says a new survey shows nine in 10 people believe texting or emailing while driving is one of the most dangerous things drivers can do, but some people still admit doing it.

The survey, done for ICBC by Ipsos Reid, also found that 76 per cent of respondents think distracted driving is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.

More than 50 per cent of those surveyed said they see other drivers breaking the law several times a day by using hand-held devices while driving.

"It’s illegal and stupid to use your cellphone or text while driving. You are putting people at risk," said Chief Const. Jamie Graham, the traffic committee chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.

"Statistics show that about a quarter of all deaths in fatal crashes in our province are driver-distraction-related so police are going to continue to recommend tougher sanctions for people who think they’re above the law."

About 16 per cent of the respondent admitted they've talked on a hand-held cellphone while driving over the last year, with nine per cent saying they've texted or emailed.

Among those who admitted to talking on a hand-held phone while driving, many claimed they used the speaker function or pulled over after answering a call, while several excused their behaviour by saying it was a short call or they were stopped at a red light.

"Driving is a complex task," said Fiona Temple, ICBC’s director of road safety.

"Many people don’t realize that it’s also illegal to take a call or text while waiting in traffic or stopped for a red light. You lose 50 per cent of what’s going on around you when you’re talking or texting on a hand-held device. This makes you four times more likely to get in a crash. Make smart decisions — whether you’re driving, waiting in traffic or stopped at a red light, let voice mail do its job or pull over if you must take a call."

The findings are the result of an online Ipsos Reid poll of 917 adult drivers between August 10 and 18. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The margin of error would be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual B.C. population according to 2006 Census data.

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