[Road safety] Distracted driving represents about 15% of road fatalities in Ontario

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

Nobody should ever die in a motor vehicle crash in Ontario, and much less in a crash caused by distracted driving. The Hellosafe.ca team investigated the numbers of distracted driving in Ontario and Canada, to point out this worrisome phenomenon.

21%

The percentage of road fatalities...

caused by distracted driving in Canada

$102.3 million

The cost of distracted driving...

each year to car insurance companies in Canada

49 deaths

Are caused every year

by distracted drivers in Ontario

Almost 50 Ontarians die every year because of distracted driving

How does distracted driving impact road statistics in Ontario? While no road fatality caused by distracted driving can be considered acceptable, the numbers show that Ontario fares better than other provinces.

The data we consulted on the different governmental websites shows that:

  • With 49 road fatalities related to distracted driving in 2019 (14.7% of the total annual road fatalities in the province), Ontario ranks well within the four biggest provinces of Canada
  • With a 13.8% of road fatalities related to distracted driving (representing 47 deaths in 2019), only Quebec does better than Ontario within the four compared provinces
  • With respective proportions of 24.9% and 27% of road fatalities related to distracted driving (representing 72 and 78 deaths over 2019), Alberta and British Columbia are the most concerned territories regarding this particular type of behaviour.

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:

  • In Ontario, distracted driving is estimated to be responsible for about 21.8% of motor vehicle crashes in 2019. This is slightly more than Quebec (21%)
  • Distracted driving seems to be a particularly problematic phenomenon in BC, where 35.2% of total motor vehicle crashes are estimated to be related to distracted driving. In Alberta this percentage is significantly lower (25.2% of 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 the overall estimated number of crashes estimated by the government rather than those reported by police. This explains the big difference compared to other provinces. The percentage of distracted driving-related crashes is the most significant indicator to be taken into account here.

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

Obviously, the road injuries and crashes incurred 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%", says the document.

Using your phone while driving costs a minimum of $432.5 in Canada

Legislation exists in all Canadian provinces to prohibit 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 severity of the fines for distracted driving depends on the provinces:

We can see that Ontario ranks among the three most severe provinces in Canada regarding distracted driving, with a minimum $615 fine for drivers using their mobile phones. However, the number for distracted driving fines doubles for repeat infractions. The fines can reach $3,000, as is the case in Ontario, which has the highest maximum fine.

Our methodology

Please note that the above-mentioned information is accurate at the time it was published. All our studies are based on reliable information sourced from public and private organizations. For further information on our editorial guidelines please click here.

About Hellosafe.ca

Hellosafe.ca is a comparison platform which is shaking up the insurance market – giving you access to the best Canada insurance deals in less than 30 seconds. Safe is supported and financed by Blue, an Insurtech Venture Capital firm. Blue already owns two leaders in the French insurance comparison market. These platforms help more than 10 million people with their insurance every year. We have developed a unique comparison technology that gives access to cover details and quotes without customers having to give their phone number or email address. This engine is the result of four years of hard work.

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Alexandre Desoutter
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