Texting and driving at the same time is not only difficult to do — it’s potentially deadly — and ICBC is out to prove it.
A distracted driving simulator, now available for use by schools, businesses and community groups in Langley, shows just how hard it is to concentrate on the road when your vehicle is full of potential diversions.
The simulator takes motorists through a virtual scenario where they must drive their friend to work, and multitask between using a cellphone, listening to a conversation and looking out for hazards on the road.
Both a Langley Times reporter and Leanne Cassap, ICBC’s road safety and community co-ordinator for the Langleys, were unable to make it very far in the challenge. Both lost control when attempting to type a text and turn a corner at the same time.
“Distracted driving is now the second leading cause of car crash fatalities on our roads — it’s actually outnumbered the number of impaired driving fatalities,” Cassap said. “And you’re actually five times more likely to crash when you’re using your hand held cellphone.
“Studies show that you lose 50 per cent of what is going on around you when you use a hand held phone. So when you’re behind the wheel, take a break from your phone.”
Distracted driving, which involves any activity — not just texting and calling — that causes the driver to lose focus on the road, is one of the top factors in police reported injury crashes in B.C., Cassap said.
There has also been a “rapid increase” in crashes throughout the province, with approximately 875 crashes happening every day. That’s the equivalent of one crash every two minutes.
“Many of these are caused by distracted driving or inattentive drivers,” Cassap said.
In an effort to combat this, ICBC has listed several tips online to help drivers remove the temptation of using their phones while behind the wheel. ICBC has also teamed up with the RCMP to implement a provincial road and safety campaign on this issue throughout the month of March.
- No call, text or email is so important it’s worth risking your life or the lives of others. Let calls go to voicemail and ignore your text messages while driving;
- Turn it off and put it out of sight or turn on airplane mode to avoid the temptation to check your phone;
- Assign a designated texter. Ask your passengers to make or receive calls and texts for you;
- Pull over to make or receive a call when it’s safe to do so. For longer journeys, look for signs at highway rest areas, some of which now provide free Wi-Fi;
- Use the ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature on iOS devices, ‘In-Traffic Reply’ on Samsung phones, or download a similar app to help you avoid using your phone while driving;
- Don’t use your cellphone at a red light. The law applies whenever you’re in control of the vehicle, whether stopped at a red light or in bumper-to-bumper traffic;
- Keep your hands off. Hands-free means a Bluetooth, wired headset or speakerphone that can be operated with one touch or voice commands. Make sure to secure the cellphone to the vehicle or attach it on your body before driving;
- If you have a Learner’s (L) or Novice (N) licence, you aren’t allowed to use any electronic device behind the wheel, for any purpose, even in hands-free mode;
- Make sure you understand the law on how to use electronic devices while driving.
Those wishing to book the distracted driving simulator at locations in Langley can do so by contacting Cassap at 604-533-7472 or emailing Leanne.Cassap@icbc.com.
For all other locations, contact your local ICBC road safety co-ordinator.