Healthy lifestyles Injury prevention Road safety Distracted driving

Distracted driving

It is estimated that distraction is a factor in 20-30% of crashes. 13-16% of fatality crashes-- and 23-27% of injury crashes-- are also due to distraction. (Traffic Injury Research Foundation)

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What is distracted driving?

Ontario law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. The law also prohibits drivers from looking at display screens unrelated to the driving task, like laptops or DVD players. You can still use a hand-held device to call 911. More info from Ontario Ministry of Transportation

Distractions can be:

  • Manual,i.e., reaching for an object in the car, holding a cell phone
  • Visual,i.e., texting, or looking at the scenery
  • Mental,i.e., engaging in conversation. The more intense, emotional or complicated, the greater the distraction


  • It is not OK to use your phone at traffic lights
  • It is not OK to use your phone in traffic
  • Holding your phone in speaker mode is not hands free
  • Trying to hide your texting isn’t fooling anyone

How distraction affects driving

Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a collision than a driver who is focused on the road. At highway speed, a driver sending a simple text message travels the length of a football field without looking at the road.

Distracted driving can lead to:

  • Inattention blindness: driver may be looking ahead but not really seeing or registering what is there
  • Tunnel vision: driver is looking straight ahead but has reduced scanning of the road and use of mirrors
  • Weaving in and out of lanes  
  • Following too closely
  • Irregular speed
  • Failing to recognize hazards or warning signs
  • Slower reactions


Worth checking out: AT&T Don't text while driving documentary

Additional information

Traffic Injury Research Foundation
CAA- Distracted driving 
Ministry of Transportation