(Part 2 of 3)Education campaigns
is a criminal offence, and using a hand-held cell phone behind the wheel is illegal, too. Yet, thousands of people keep talking and texting while driving, endangering the lives of many in the process. Ironically, Quebecers insist that driving distractions are their biggest road safety concern!
Shocking ad campaigns, police operations and the latest movie by Paul Arcand (Dérapages
) all aim to educate people on the dangers of bad or reckless driving. Since the provincial government passed a bill to prevent the use of SMS by drivers, more than 100,000 tickets have been given to offenders according to the Quebec Ministry of Transport. These tickets carry a minimum fine of $80-$100 and three demerit points.
A US study has shown that nearly 30% of American adults send or receive text messages while driving. The numbers across Quebec remain unknown, but it should be safe to assume that they're pretty similar.
Did you know that you're 23 times more likely to suffer an accident when texting behind the wheel, whereas driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 only increases the risk by 10-15 times? Did you know that you're travelling a distance of 56 metres in the time it takes you to check your phone at a speed of 50 km/h – and 100 metres at 90 km/h? That's like driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed!
Who's more to blame?
According to both the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), teenage girls are particularly guilty. In fact, a study by the AAA showed that teenage girls are twice as likely as their male counterparts to use cell phones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel. Overall, they're 10% more likely to be engaged in other distracting behaviours.
The Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec
(SAAQ) begs to differ, however. Even though they represent 54% of all young drivers, teenage boys received 61% of the 1,519 tickets that were given to this specific group in 2010. Is it just because girls did a better job of not getting caught?