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Canadian Drivers Feel Less Safe Today Than Before Covid-19: Survey

You might have noticed how stressful driving can be these days and how on edge everyone seems. It turns out, you’re not alone.

The 2023 Distracted Driving Risk Survey revealed that almost 30 per cent of drivers felt less safe today compared to the COVID-19 pandemic. It represented a 36 per cent year-over-year increase from 2022 by 22 per cent.

The impact of the outside-of-the-car stressors was the most interesting discovery, according to Paul Stone, the vice president of Distribution and Sales at Travelers Canada.

“More than three-quarters of people found that the behaviour of other drivers was a common stressor that could lead to distraction, with two [out of] three people [saying] that traffic ramped up that stress,” he told AutoTrader.

The parking spot is another outside-of-the-car stressor, appearing in nearly half of the respondent’s answers. Stone recommended parking far away and to “take advantage of the extra 50 metres and have a little bit of a walk.”

Stone also said the survey indicated “one in six respondents noted intense emotions while driving, and that data was skewed toward drivers under 34.” This group’s age had twice the chance to feel these “experiences compared to older drivers (ages 55–69).”

While Stone wasn’t able to comment on the reasons why this is happening, a report from the American Psychological Association said that, “Adults, particularly millennials and parents with children under 18, said even minor daily decisions have become overwhelming.” This added stress could be showing up on our roads because stress inhibits more impulsive behaviours like road rage, the report said, which, in turn, might be making people feel less safe than before the pandemic.

Technology was the most common distracted driving behaviour inside the car, even though 40 per cent of Canadian drivers recognized how dangerous technology might affect their driving skills. The survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of Canadian drivers often talk on or use their electronic devices while driving. In addition, more than half were distracted by reading or looking at GPS navigation.

Stone added that employers could help to diminish the risks of distracted driving by asking employees to turn their phones “to not disturb.”

“Only 17 per cent of companies have a distracted driving policy, and in those cases, 90 per cent of employees will abide by that policy,” he said.

And 80 per cent of survey respondents answered that if their car insurance gives a discount for not using a cellphone while driving, drivers are less likely to use them.

The report said 30 per cent of drivers admitted their own distractions involved them in a car collision, which is a 50 per cent increase from 2022.

Participants also responded to what made them distracted:

  • Traffic (62 per cent),
  • Eating or drinking a beverage while driving (58 per cent),
  • Following directions (43 per cent),
  • Passenger behaviour (34 per cent).

This is the second year Travelers Canada undertook the 2023 Distracted Driving Risk Survey. And the survey verified improvements and recommendations such as reporting unsafe behaviour witnesses on the road; the survey revealed that only 7 per cent of respondents have ever called the police to report dangerous distracted driving.

“We need to see more holding to account, [and] we want safer roads for our friends, for our families, and for people we don’t even know,” Stone said.