Top Stories > 2022 National Safe Driving Week
You’re driving in an unfamiliar area and don’t fully trust that you’ll be able to find your destination. But you’ve come prepared! You open your navigation app or your vehicle’s infotainment system, type in the address, and are fastidiously following the directions.
You’re so focused on not missing a turn, in fact, that your focus on the road slips for just a moment…and when you look back up, you find yourself closing the distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead far too quickly.
Navigation tools are useful additions to a driver’s arsenal. However, it is worth remembering that these are indeed tools and not the main focus.
National Safe Driving Week is December 1 – 7 and the Canada Safety Council, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) and the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba (IBAM), want to remind you that focus on the road while behind the wheel is a must.
“It might be said that automation tools such as navigation apps in a vehicle help reduce driver anxiety and therefore can help a person focus on safe driving,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “And while that is true, these tools can also contribute to distraction behind the wheel when not used as intended. When used as a crutch, rather than assistance, these technologies can quickly become problematic.”
According to a 2017 study from the University of Utah, test subjects took on average 40 seconds to program navigation into an in-vehicle information system. This was deemed the most distracting of the four tasks measured — the other three tasks included making a call, sending a text message and tuning the radio.
“Taking your eyes off the road for a distraction is not worth the risk,” said Grant Wainikka, CEO of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba. “It only takes a moment for an accident to occur and the stakes are too high – death, injury, property damage and fines all have financial impacts on auto insurance premiums and driver licence fees. Stay safe and keep your eyes on the road.”
While stationary, this is a non-issue — however, a 2020 poll by the Canadian Automobile Association revealed that 47 per cent of Canadians admitted to programming navigation while driving.
“Distracted driving in any form can have serious consequences – according to MPI data, an average of 9,600 collisions are caused annually in Manitoba by this high-risk driving behaviour,” said Eric Herbelin, President & CEO of MPI. “Tragically, 25 Manitobans are killed in these collisions, with approximately 2,800 individuals suffering injuries each year. Any time a driver gets behind the wheel, they have the ability to help change these statistics by focusing on the road and creating safer roads for all throughout the province.”
Any task that takes focus off the road increases the likelihood of a collision. Property damage and increased insurance premiums, to say nothing of injury and fatality, are simply not worth the risk. Read on for tips on how to safely navigate away from distraction behind the wheel:
- Program your navigation before departure. At 90 km/h, taking your eyes off the road for five seconds is the equivalent of traveling the full length of a standard football field. Program your destination ahead of time so it does not become an issue while on the road.
- Get a passenger to help guide you. The auditory cues on navigation apps can be distracting. Additionally, some apps actively draw your attention to them, prompting the driver to confirm presence of law enforcement or a collision. To eliminate these distractions, ask a passenger to direct you and leave the navigation tool muted. If you do not have a passenger on board, be cognizant of where your attention is being directed and ensure that there are no competing interests to your focus on driving.
- Leave the phone alone. The best solution, of course, is to leave your phone alone entirely while behind the wheel. Familiarize yourself with your destination ahead of time, using a tool like Google Street View. Knowing the area and directions will enable you to keep your focus entirely on the road, and to keep alert so you won’t miss your destination.
You can read more about distracted driving in our archived National Safe Driving Week campaigns, including information on distraction as a whole, eating behind the wheel, and excessive phone notifications.