New Brunswick

Insurance Bureau says distracted driving claims put pressure on rates

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says eight out of 10 collisions reported to insurance companies involve distracted driving.

Insurance Bureau of Canada says 8 out of 10 collisions reported involve distracted driving

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, eight out of 10 collisions reported to insurance companies involve distracted driving.

With an estimated 80 per cent of motor vehicle collisions involving distracted driving, the Insurance Bureau of Canada is warning motorists about the consequences of using mobile devices behind the wheel.

"If we're in a vehicle where somebody is using their mobile device and texting and calling … tell them to put it down," Amanda Dean, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada in Halifax, said Tuesday on Information Morning Fredericton.

"It's not worth it … that the danger they are putting you, themselves and other road users in."

Dean said there are many ways a driver can be distracted while driving, but the most prevalent is mobile devices. 

She also said that drivers text messaging are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision.

Given the numbers, she said insurance companies are taking the situation seriously and that a distracted driving offence could affect insurance coverage.

Some insurance companies are treating distracted driving offences in the same manner impaired driving in terms of calculating insurance premiums.

$10B in economic losses

Overall, traffic-related collisions result in economic losses involving health care and loss of productivity costs amount to $10 billion in Canada each year, Dean said.

Statistics recently released by the Fredericton Police Department indicate that 130 tickets have been issued this year for distracted driving between June 1 and Sept. 1 — 25 more than the same time period a year ago.

Const. Patrick Small said earlier this week that the message isn't getting through to drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

While on patrols, he has seen drivers using mobile devices for online banking and Facebook.

Dean said the police are doing a good job with enforcement, adding that when an officer arrives at a collision scene, one of the first things they check for is whether a mobile device was a factor. Still, enforcing cell phone usage in vehicles can be challenging.

"It's just one of those things. It's everywhere," she said.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton