Distracted driving continues to be a growing concern on Canadian roads and smartphones are a big part of those distractions. In fact, drivers who are texting and driving are 23 times more likely to get in an accident than those who stay focused on the road.
At TELUS, we want to change that. As a provider of the network that powers our mobile devices, we have a profound responsibility to tackle distracted driving head-on and encourage you and your loved ones to make smart and safe smartphone decisions every single time you are behind the wheel. We want to rally Canadians to change their driving behavior for the better and salute those who stay focused on the road and resist the temptation to check their beloved devices while driving.
That’s why we’re launching the “Thumbs Up. Phones Down.” campaign – a social movement focused on increasing awareness of distracted driving and encouraging Canadian drivers to focus on the road; because when your thumbs are up, you can’t text and drive. We are inviting everyone to join the “Thumbs Up. Phones Down.” movement by not using your smartphones while driving – and by rewarding drivers for positive behaviour with a thumbs up.
So, how can you get involved? Here’s our handy step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Put your phone away every time you get behind the wheel of a car and focus on the road. This part is non-negotiable!
Step 2: Take to the Internet (when you’re not driving, of course!) and share you best thumbs up selfie or video using the #ThumbsUpPhonesDown hashtag to help rally your friends, family and followers around the cause.
Step 3: See a driver with both hands on the wheel? Give them a thumbs up for resisting the temptation and keeping their phone down and eyes on the road while driving.
Wondering just how much of a problem distracted driving is?
It’s big. The Ontario Provincial Police report that within its jurisdictions, the number of distracted driving-related fatalities in 2013 surpassed the number of impaired-related and speed-related fatalities respectively.It is also the second-leading cause of car crashes in B.C. (ICBC).
Because this is so important to us, we conducted our own study and learned some interesting things about Canadians’ behaviour behind the wheel in the process:
- On a weekly basis, one-third of respondents acknowledged using their smartphones while driving, including making non-hands-free calls, checking texts and reading emails.
- Most Canadians understand that using a smartphone while driving is unsafe. When asked to describe the behaviour, 48 per cent said it was “bad”, “stupid” and “wrong.” Surprisingly, just 27 per cent confirmed it is illegal (did you know distracted driving is illegal in all provinces and territories, except Nunavut?) and only 18 per cent described it as “dangerous”, “unsafe” or “distracting.”
- Among respondents, 49 per cent said they feel obligated to address a call, message or text as it comes in while they’re driving.
- Two out of five Canadians can’t make it through their average commute (25.4 minutes, according to Stats Canada) without responding to a call, text or email, while 37 per cent of respondents said they would send a text to their boss while driving and 32 per cent would do the same for their friends.
- As passengers, 70 per cent of Canadians believe using a smartphone while driving is unsafe and that the act makes them uncomfortable, but 24 per cent of passengers in a car with a driver on their smartphone don’t voice their concern.
- Nationally, only three out of four passengers who felt uncomfortable with a driver’s use of a smartphone spoke up about it. In Quebec, all respondents who felt uncomfortable said something.
It’s clear that we’ve got a long way to go before we can kick distracted driving to the curb. At TELUS, putting our customers first goes far beyond customer service. To us, it means that we have a responsibility to make sure that our customers, and all Canadians, are educated about using their devices safely. We’ll be doing our part by putting our phones away while driving and recognizing our fellow good drivers with a thumbs up. We hope you will join us!