Imagine driving with your eyes closed for 4.6 seconds.
That’s the time it takes you to drive an entire city block. And how long it takes to send a text.
If you think that’s a good idea, you’re wrong, says Dr. Ian Pike, director of the BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit at BC Children’s Hospital.
“It’s just impossible to attend to two things at once,” Pike said. “If you asked a person to drive down the street with their eyes closed for 4.6 seconds, … they would think you were a lunatic.”
That’s why, as the summer heats up and more drivers take to the roads, the hospital is asking everyone to leave their phone alone while at the wheel.
According to Pike, people are 23 times more likely to crash if they text while driving. ICBC found that 34 per cent of crashes involving youth were as a result of distracted driving. In 2015 – the last year for which figures are available – that amounted to more than 10,000 crashes across B.C.
“If you’ve got your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, you can imagine the distance you’ve covered – particularly at highway speeds,” he said.
Pike acknowledged it’s a challenge to get teens, who grew up with cellphones in hand, to put them away while driving.
He lauded the invention of ‘do not disturb’ apps, including the automatic iPhone setting that puts the phone into ‘do not disturb’ as soon as it detects it moving quickly.
Pike said the province can reduce distracted driving crashes in the same way it curbed those caused by drunk-driving.
In 2010, B.C. imposed harsh new penalties and launched a massive education campaign on the dangers of getting behind the wheel impaired.
“The drunk driving campaign is a very good news story,” Pike said. “The millennial generation has really embraced that message and they have really taken responsibility for drinking and driving.”
He pointed to his own millennial daughter, who he says “never went out to party without having a designated driver. They all just take turns.”