Canadian Underwriter

B.C. drivers feel safer after distracted driving law takes effect, but many still flouting the law: BCAA survey

January 27, 2011   by Canadian Underwriter

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British Columbia’s drivers claim they are more alert and the roads are safer because of the province’s distracted driver law, now in effect for a year, according to a new survey by the B.C. Automobile Association (BCAA).
But an alarming number of drivers admit to occasionally breaking the law or seeing others break it, the survey reveals. And those who do break it are going to get a nasty look.
The B.C. law forbids talking on a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving.
BCAA has conducted an online survey asking drivers for impressions of the law’s efficacy after a full year of implementation. The online survey drew 2,139 respondents.
Among those surveyed, 57% said they felt roads were safer as a result of the law, the BCAA notes in a press release. In addition, 34% said they are paying more attention to the way they drive because of the law.
Still, a significant minority (13%) of survey respondents said they continue to talk on hand held phones while driving “occasionally.” Only 3% admitted to talking frequently using a hand-held phone while the ban was in effect.
Of those surveyed, 14% continue to talk “frequently,” more than once a week, using a hands-free device.
And while few admit to breaking the law themselves, almost everyone in the survey reported seeing someone else defy the ban. And that is causing some frustration, the BCAA notes.
Eighty per cent of those surveyed said they frequently observe other drivers talking on hand-held phones.
“And what do they do when they see another driver with a phone to his/her ear?” the BCAA notes in its press release. “Over half – 55% – say they give a dirty look or gesture to the driver to get off the phone.
“Three per cent roll down the window and say something to the other driver, while two per cent write down their license plate number and give it to the police.”
The BCAA says it doesn’t recommend engaging with other drivers over their cell phone and texting habits. “But the responses to this survey suggest drivers are frustrated by those who continue to disobey the law,” said Trace Acres, BCAA’s director of corporate communications and public affairs.