Distracted driving has replaced impaired driving and speeding as the top contributing factor for injury crashes involving young people.
“Studies show those that are talking on their cellphones lose about 50 per cent of what’s going on around them,” Markita Kaulius, an ICBC road safety speaker, told Surrey high school students during a recent presentation at Panorama Ridge Secondary.
“Please, leave your phone alone when you are stopped at a red light,” she told the audience. “You are five times more likely to crash if you are using hand-held phone. Distracted drivers cause more fatalities on B.C. roads now than impaired driving.”
On average 29 young people are killed in 10,000 crashes and 10,000 are injured in 30,000 crashes each year in B.C., Kaulius said.
Meantime, Leanne Cassap, a road safety and community coordinator for ICBC, said young male drivers are involved in crashes “almost three times as often” as young female drivers, “particularly where speed or impairment are involved, so that’s quite staggering.”
All told, Cassap said, when it comes to contributing factors for injury crashes involving young people, 33 per cent are related to distracted driving, 17 per cent speed, and six per cent impaired driving.
“So the speed and the distracted driving stand out,” she said, “for the fatals and injuries.”
These statistics, Cassap said, are derived from police-reported data based on a five-year average from 2013 to 2017, wherein youth are defined as age 16 to 21.