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Poll shows many Canadians still use their cell phone behind the wheel because of pressure to stay connected

Distracted driving campaigns across B.C. last month revealed the shocking number of people who still choose to use their mobile device behind the wheel.

A new survey shows that, despite well-publicized dangers of distracted driving, 37% of Canadian drivers use a mobile device behind the wheel.

<who>Photo Credit: RCMP

The poll by Travellers Canada revealed that 31% of people feel compelled to use their phone while driving because of family obligations “that require constant attention.” Another 27% did not want to miss something important, and 14% use their phones while driving to always be available for work.

“The findings suggest that drivers are feeling the pressures of our increasingly connected world, and high awareness of the law does not necessarily translate to prudent behaviours behind the wheel,” said Jordan Solway, Group General Counsel and Vice President of Claim at Travelers Canada.

The survey findings also demonstrate a contrast in how drivers view their own distractions compared to those of others. For example, 69% of Canadian drivers think the biggest distraction to the average person while driving is using a mobile device. However, only 24% think using a mobile device is the biggest distraction to their own driving.

The BC RCMP were handing out numerous distracted driving tickets last month. One B.C. driver was issued two distracted driving tickets within 13 minutes of each other for using a mobile device.

In the South Okanagan, police issued a total of 54 distracted driving tickets over the course of a weekend. RCMP in North Vancouver announced they handed out 74 tickets to distracted drivers, all in just two hours.

Nearly 300 distracted driving tickets were handed out in the Central Okanagan in March.

Under ICBC's new rules, drivers with two convictions for the use of electronic devices while driving over a three year period will now face added and higher premiums.

They could pay as much as $2,000 in penalties, an increase of $740 over the previous punishment, in addition to their regular car insurance premium.

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