[Road safety] Distracted driving is responsible for 25% of road fatalities in Alberta

Statistics show that Alberta is one of the provinces most affected by distracted driving in Canada, with too many crashes and fatalities caused by irresponsible drivers.

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Distracted driving is the cause of many road fatalities in Canada every year (credit: Alabama Department of Transportation)

21 %

The percentage of road fatalities…

caused by distracted driving in Canada

$102.3 million

The cost of distracted driving…

each year for car insurance companies in Canada

72 deaths

Are caused every year

because of distracted drivers across Alberta

Almost 72 Albertan drivers die every year because of distracted driving

How does distracted driving impact road statistics in Alberta? The numbers show that Alberta is one of Canada’s most negatively-affected province in this regard.

Indeed, the data we could consult on the governmental websites show that:

  • With 72 road fatalities related to distracted driving in 2019, Alberta ranks as the second worst Canadian province for distracted driving (This represented 24.9% of all the annual road fatalities in the province)
  • Only does worse, with 27% of overall road fatalities caused by distracted driving (which represents 78 annual deaths)
  • Among the four provinces studied, Quebec ranks best with 13.8% of road fatalities attributed to distracted driving. Ontario ranks second at 14.75%.

In Canada, 1,762 people died on the roads in 2019. Distracted driving is estimated to be responsible for 21% of these fatalities, representing a total of 370 deaths across the country over that year.

That trend also reflects when looking at the numbers of motor vehicle collisions in the same four provinces:

  • Distracted driving seems to be particularly problematic in Alberta, with more than a quarter (25.2%) of total motor vehicle crashes estimated to be related to distracted driving.
  • This represents a total of more than 35,000 distracted driving related crashes every year across Alberta!
  • In BC, this percentage reaches 35.2%, which makes this province the most affected one as concerns distracted driving crashes
  • Quebec is the least-affected province among the big four, at 21% of road crashes related to distracted driving.
ProvinceMotor vehicle crashes related to distracted drivingTotal police-reported road crashesProportion of distracted driving related crashes
Quebec5,90328,10921%
Ontario9,46143,35321.8%
Alberta*33,581133,124*25.2%
British Colombia12,47635,44635.2%
Sources: CAA, Government of Alberta, ICBC, SAAQ, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

*The numbers for Alberta are not those of the crashes reported by the police, but the overall estimated number of crashes estimated by the government. This explains the big difference with the other provinces. The percentage of distracted driving-related crashes is the most significant indicator to consider here.

$102.3 million: the estimated cost of distracted driving to car insurance companies in Canada in 2021

Obviously, the road injuries and crashes caused by distracted driving have a cost for the car insurance companies. We estimate it to be around $102 million per year. Every year the distracted driving statistics increase, and we have tried to estimate what that could cost car insurance in the near future.

For this, we have built two scenarios, considering that (unfortunately), distracting driving-related collisions will continue to increase :

Scenario 1A 2% annual increase in distracted driving-related collisions in Canada
Scenario 2A 5% annual increase in distracted driving-related collisions in Canada

And here is what our projections show:

  • In our “optimistic” scenario, distracted driving will end up costing $122.3 million by 2030, meaning a $20 million increase for car insurance companies in comparison with 2021
  • In our “pessimistic” scenario, distracted driving could end up costing $158.7 million by 2030, meaning a $55.7 million increase for car insurance companies in comparison with 2021.

A poll conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation in 2020 gives interesting insights on distracted driving in Canada. “Almost one in ten Canadian drivers (9.7%) reported texting while driving in 2019. This represents an increase over 2018, when 7.5% reported doing so, and a 102% increase compared to 2010. Talking on a handheld device while driving also increased to 11.7% from 9.3% in 2018; however, talking on a hands-free device decreased from 36.5% to 32%“, the document states.

With a $300 distracted driving minimum fine, Alberta among the least severe provinces in Canada

Legislation exists in all Canadian provinces prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving. All provinces have their own legislation and punishment for this type of infraction. However, the line chart below shows that the level of severity regarding distracted driving depends on the provinces :

We can see that with a $300 minimum fine for distracted driving, Alberta ranks among the 5 least severe provinces regarding distracted driving. In comparison, the minimum fine in Manitoba for the same violation reaches $672! Those numbers may raise concern about the necessity for the Albertan authorities to be more severe against distracted driving behaviors in the future.

Our methodology

The above-mentioned information is accurate as of the date of publication. All our studies are based on reliable information sourced from public and private organizations. For further information on our editorial guidelines please click here.

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Alexandre Desoutter
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