Canadian Underwriter

Distracted driving accelerates post-pandemic

June 29, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

A person holds the steering wheel of a car with their left hand while their right hand hovers over the horn

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Ninety-eight per cent of Ontario drivers report witnessing unsafe driving behaviours over the past year — a 3% increase from the year previous — and yet only 58% admit to engaging in dangerous driving behaviours themselves, a CAA South Central Ontario (SCO) and DIG Insights study finds. 

“Traffic returning to pre-pandemic levels could be the reason why we’re seeing this increase in unsafe driving,” Michael Stewart, community relations consultant for government and community relations at CAA SCO, observes in a press release.  

Speeding was the most common dangerous driving behaviour people observed in the study, with about half of the respondents indicating this as a “big problem” in Ontario. Aggressive driving, unsafe lane changes and distracted driving followed as the next most dangerous behaviours.  

Among those who admit to distracted driving, 43% admitted to speeding, 17% say they’ve driven distracted, 8% say they’ve made unsafe lane changes and 6% have driven aggressively. 

Most of the time, these behaviours are witnessed on higher-speed highways, says Stewart.  

Six per cent fewer drivers feel safe on the roads, specifically on highways with speed limits of 100 km/h, the study finds.  

What’s more, while most drivers believe photo radar helps deter speeding in school and community safety zones, one-third say they try to avoid roads with photo radar cameras, and 43% say they accelerate after passing them.  

Increased reports of speeding and stunt driving led the Ontario government to enact tougher fines and penalties. “Ontario police services continue to report significant amounts of speeding, stunt and aggressive driving. Although the pandemic amplified the awareness, the issue was growing well before that,” says Stewart.  

 Feature image by Pattanasri