Insurance companies predict that as a driver, you’re likely to get into an accident (even minor) almost once every decade. Most of us know which driving habits are unsafe, and yet, they’re called habits for a reason.
We got the numbers on four of the worst ways to be behind the wheel.
You may have road rage and not even know it
The image of an angry driver wailing on their horn or throwing themselves at another person might be our conventional idea of road rage, but aggressive driving is a more accurate term that most of us are guilty of almost every day.
Aggressive driving habits, like flashing our high beams at oncoming cars, changing lanes without signalling, or following too closely behind cars that aren’t driving fast enough for us, are all considered forms of road rage. Not only are they dangerous, but studies have shown that 1 in 2 drivers who encounter another aggressive driver will reciprocate with similar behaviour.
Stats show that it won’t be getting better anytime soon. As traffic becomes more and more congested in major cities, AAA and CAA have predicted that road rage incidents will increase by 7% each year.
The need for speed
Most of us know that speeding is not only dangerous, but the third leading contributor to traffic accidents. In Canada alone, it causes 20% of all collisions (just behind distracting driving and driving under the influence). But most of us don’t know just how much speeding affects our likelihood to be involved in an accident. A TRIF Canada study done in 2007 found that for each 1% increase in speed, your risk of collision rises by 4%. Those are some hair raising numbers.
Eating while driving
It’s not against the law to eat or drink while driving, nor does it legally count as distracted driving. But if your eating, back-seat searching or song changing leads you to endanger the lives of others, it could result in being convicted of careless driving. This has happened in many cases where, for example, a driver was unable to make a safe or proper maneuver because they were holding coffee in one hand, or looking for something under the seat and running a red light.
Let’s talk texting
These days, texting and driving is treated like drinking and driving in the eyes of the law, and rightfully so. Distracted driving fatalities in Ontario have doubled since the year 2000. A study done in 2013 found that a driver using their phone is four times more likely to be involved in a car accident in Ontario.
You don’t have to be texting to be convicted of distracted driving. Even holding your phone or any other communication/entertainment device can get you pulled over. For non-novice drivers, a distracted driving conviction can cost you up to $1000 and three demerit points.
Heavier consequences come when distracted driving becomes careless driving; when your texting puts the safety of others at risk. A careless driving conviction comes at a cost of six demerit points, fines up to $2,000 and/or a jail term of six months, and a licence suspension of up to two years.