Canadians distracted at red lights

Sep 30, 2014 | Life

By Marlon Gomez

More than 30 per cent of Canadians admitted to checking their cell phone while stopped at a red light, according to an Allstate survey released today.

The survey found 34 per cent (or 414.12 participants) of Canadian drivers checked their phone while stopped at a red light. However, a total of 58 per cent (or 706.44 participants) of drivers said they do not check their phone while waiting for a red light to change.

The Allstate Canada online survey conducted by Leger reached 1,218 Canadians over the age of 18 with a cell phone and a driver’s license.

In particular, the poll found 18 per cent (or 219.2 participants) of drivers admitted to texting someone while stopped at a red light. On the other hand, only nine per cent (or 109.62 participants) said they made a quick call.

Texting while driving is a provincial offense under the Highway Traffic Act that is only enforced by the police, Rob Kilfoyle, director of Safety and Emergency Management at Humber, told Humber News.

The survey revealed the top reason for texting or calling while stopped at a red light was to respond to a spouse or family member.

A total of 46 per cent of drivers who were surveyed and had children admitted to checking their phones at a red light. In comparison, 29 per cent of drivers who were surveyed had no children admitted to checking their phones.


“When drivers are stopped they tend to pay less attention to the road and this is when collisions happen,” said Bob Annan, a retired police officer and cofounder of Accident Awareness, in a media release. “Whether you’re driving down a highway or stuck at a red light, it’s never safe to use your phone while driving.”

A 2011 Transport Canada report found more than 40 per cent of all motor vehicle collisions happen in or around intersections.

Canadian drivers were also asked what would motivate them to stop checking their cell phones while driving. A total of 40 per cent of drivers said injuring others or themselves would be the biggest motivating factor.

Receiving a fine as a result of using their phone came in second place at 33 percent, while 32 per cent of drivers said they would stop if they lost their license, the poll said.

A difference in gender also affected the results as men were more likely to make a quick call while waiting at a red light. The results show 10 per cent of men make quick calls versus seven per cent of women, the poll showed.

At the moment, Humber does not have programs focused on encouraging students to stop texting or calling while driving.

“The issue of distracted driving or texting does not fall under Humber’s jurisdiction,” said Kilfoyle.

Although, Humber North Campus does partner up every year with the police to host the annual provincial launch of R.I.D.E., he said.

The sample was weighted by age, gender and region. The online survey was conducted between Aug. 18 and Aug. 21.

Humber News conducted a unscientific survey today asking 50 students at North Campus if they checked their phone while stopped at a red light. A total of 30 students said “yes” while 20 said “no”.