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Press Release

Students Across the Country Find Eating and Drinking Biggest Driver Distraction During Morning Rush Hour

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - October 01, 2013) - High school students across Canada were out in force at busy intersections this morning, to see if legislation to deter distracted driving is working. Students in 10 Canadian cities observed 2,866 distracted drivers in a one hour period, suggesting that many drivers are not taking the dangers of this behaviour seriously. Added to the 1,091 distractions spotted by Allstate Canada Agents in six other cities, a total of 3,957 distracted drivers were logged in just one hour this morning.

Distracted driving laws prohibiting drivers from using electronic devices are in effect in all provinces and territories, with the exception of Nunavut. Alberta stands out as the only province where reading, writing, hygiene and other activities are written into the legislation -- broadening it beyond the current ban on electronic devices. Yet the tallies showed that talking on the phone or texting still made up 18 per cent of the distractions noted.

However, today's student tally is a reminder that texting and the use of cell phones are not the only causes of driver distraction. 

"Over the past three years, we've been working to show teens firsthand the kinds of distracted driving behaviours that are happening on our roads and to raise awareness about the dangers," says Saskia Matheson, spokesperson for Allstate Canada. "Today's tally reveals that drivers are still struggling, or maybe reluctant, to give up their distractions."

Distracted driving consists of visual, manual or cognitive distractions (i.e. mind off of the road). The most common distractions are often eating, talking to other passengers or changing the radio station. 

According to a recent survey by Allstate Canada and Abacus data, 90 per cent of respondents admitted to driving with some kind of distraction behind the wheel, which increased from 75 per cent in a similar study done by Allstate in 2010. 

"Our research indicates that almost all Canadian drivers (94 per cent) are aware of current distracted driving penalties, but only seven per cent say this would prevent them from driving distracted," says Matheson. 

Results from driver tally:

  • The most common distractions were eating and drinking (18.5 per cent of all distracted drivers counted), talking to other passengers (17.6 per cent) and smoking (12.8 per cent).
  • Eighteen per cent of all drivers were either talking on the phone or texting while driving.
  • A total of 3,957 distractions were found by students and Allstate employees in Sherwood Park, ABEdmontonToronto, Brampton, WhitbyThornhillMississauga, Niagara Falls; Windsor, ON; KingstonPeterborough Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, OttawaMontreal and Moncton.
  • Complete results from the distracted driving events can be found here: http://bit.ly/Allstate2013tallies.

Since Allstate Canada started holding the distracted driving tallies three years ago, the average number of distractions counted has increased each year. Students and Allstate Canada employees counted an average of 158 distractions per location in 2011, 201 distractions in 2012 and now an average of 247 distractions per location today.

Allstate Canada is working with teens and drivers of all ages to make a commitment to driving without distraction a priority.

Just Drive Canada contest returns 

To help develop safe driving habits that will last a lifetime, high school students across the country are being invited to submit a picture, video or audio clip giving distracted drivers a piece of their mind.

Students have until November 13, 2013 to submit their entry for a chance to win cash prizes. Winners will be announced January 22, 2014. Just Drive Canada gives Canadian youth a platform to speak out against the dangers of distracted driving. justdrivecanada.ca #justdrive

About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada 

Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of Canada's leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products, and also recently named to Aon Hewitt's Best Employers in Canada list. "The Good Hands Network®" enables consumers to contact Allstate Canada through one of 82 community-based Agencies, directly online at allstate.ca and through the Customer Contact Centre at 1-800-Allstate. Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates and has partnered with organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), Crime Stoppers, United Way and Junior Achievement. Allstate is also working with Accident Awareness and Teens Learn to Drive on the issue of distracted driving. To learn more about Allstate Canada, visit allstate.ca.

For more information about Allstate Canada distracted driving initiatives also see justdrivecanada.ca, facebook.com/justdrivecanada, twitter.com/justdrivecanada, blog.justdrivecanada.ca, distractionfree23.ca, #justdrive and #DF23. 

Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2013/10/1/11G008694/Images/Thornley_Pic-593615837197.jpg

For more information about the distracted driver tally results, Just Drive Canada, other Allstate Canada distracted driving initiatives, or to speak with a spokesperson, please contact:

Jennifer Fox
Thornley Fallis Communications
T: 416.515.7517 x 350
fox@thornleyfallis.ca