Motor vehicle crashes - What can be done?

Distracted driving

Distraction is an issue amongst all Canadian drivers. It can be defined as anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the task at hand. These distractions can be classified into three categories: visual, manual and cognitive.

  • Visual distraction: When a driver’s eyes leave the road way
  • Manual distraction: When a driver’s hands leave the steering wheel
  • Cognitive distraction: When a driver’s mind is no longer on the task at hand

These distractions can seem like a minor moment of inattention, but still detract from an important task. Handheld devices present high levels of risk amongst drivers. Other distractions include drinking, adjusting dials in the car, eating, personal grooming, turning around, reaching for something in vehicle and communicating with people inside or outside the vehicle. The addition of passengers further distracts drivers, through loud conversations and horseplay.

In addition to the type of distraction, it is also important to recognize that distractions can have various origins.

  • Internal: These distractions come from within the car or the driver’s mind (originating from passengers, thoughts, etc.)
  • External: These distractions originate outside the car, such as other vehicles, signs, weather, etc.

It is important to manage distractions before getting on the road. These tips are a great start to staying safe behind the wheel:

  • Either mute or turn off cell phones before leaving, storing them away to avoid usage
  • Use car controls responsibly and maintain awareness of the roadways
  • Do not eat, drink or groom yourself while driving
  • Follow laws and regulations where you are driving
  • Ensure you are aware of your surroundings.
  • Become a role model for passengers in your vehicle.

Speed reduction 

Speed reduction is an important factor in overall pedestrian safety. A pedestrian struck by a car traveling at 50 km/hr is eight times more likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck at 30 km/hr. Even small reductions in speed can be significant. For each 1.6 km/hr reduction in average speed, collisions are reduced by five per cent. Reducing vehicle speed has been proven to be effective in preventing crashes and reducing the severity of injuries. At a speed of 30km/hr, vehicles and pedestrians are both relatively safe; drivers have sufficient time to stop for pedestrians and pedestrians can make better crossing decisions.

Parachute’s Pace Car Community program speak to the specific issue of traffic calming. Volunteers in the community agree to drive at the posted speed limit. Cars become a "mobile speed bump" slowing speeding traffic behind them. Traffic is not only calmed on one street, but throughout a neighbourhood.

Teen driver safety

Teen driver safety is a huge issue in Canada—while young people only make up 13% of licensed drivers, they account for approximately one quarter of all road-related injuries and fatalities. Teenagers are known to demonstrate increased risk taking behaviour, particularly related to driving. Most of these injuries and deaths can be prevented; National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) is all about driving that change.

National Teen Driver Safety Week is an awareness campaign, focused on teen driver safety in Canada. Each year, many organizations, groups, anindividuals answer thcall, by taking action in their local communities to raise awareness and drive change around this issue. Check out our National Teen Driver Safety Week section for information on this year's campaign.

Vision Zero

Parachute has a wealth of additional resources on road safety information and initiatives. To learn more, visit the Parachute Vision Zero Network