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Distracted driving increases risk of cross-border personal injury

Traffic volumes will increase following the lifted border restrictions that made it possible for vaccinated people from the United States to make road trips to British Columbia and other Canadian provinces and territories. With more vehicles on the roads, distractions could cause car accidents in the blink of an eye, often with devastating consequences. 

Contrary to popular belief, mobile phones and other electronic devices are not the only sources of distractions for drivers. BCAA research on distracted driving among drivers with valid licences reports that 93% of drivers are focused drivers, yet they also do the following things that cause their attention to slip: 

  • Use mobile phone 
  • Drink and eat 
  • Interact with passengers 
  • Scan street signs and numbers 
  • Adjust the climate control system 
  • Check out the scenery 

The four types of distractions

  1. Manual: Taking one hand off the wheel to reach for an object tends to cause the hand on the steering wheel to steer in the direction the other hand is reaching. 
  2. Visual: Taking the eyes off the road while travelling at 100km/h is tantamount to driving a hockey rink’s length, blindfolded, in as little as two seconds. 
  3. Cognitive: Drivers whose minds are not focused on the road become less alert due to a narrower field of vision. 
  4. Auditory: Distractions like loud music in the car interfere with hearing vital external audible cues. 

According to the BCAA, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, ICBC and other road safety agencies, drivers’ risks of crashing are doubled by as little as two seconds of visual distractions. The agencies also explained the risk levels of the following distractions: 

  • Texting increases the crash risk up to 23 times. 
  • Using a mobile phone makes drivers four times as likely to be involved in an accident. 
  • Navigation programming distracts a driver for about 53 seconds – 40 seconds for the programming and 13 seconds to allow the brain to refocus. 

Suffering cross-border personal injuries in car accidents caused by distracted drivers could complicate the process of damage recovery through the British Columbia civil justice system. Along with the need to navigate the legal procedures of both countries, crash victims will have to deal with both U.S. and Canadian insurance companies.