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____ Thursday December 17, 2015 ____

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Distracted Driving

New report will lead to creation of national plan to combat distracted driving

Guelph - Yesterday, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) and The Co-operators released Distracted Driving in Canada: Making Progress, Taking Action, a report that provides a snapshot of activities underway in Canada to reduce distracted driving. Based on an environmental scan TIRF completed in partnership with Drop It and Drive (D.I.A.D.) earlier this year, it identifies the need for a national action plan to combat the problem and recommends the creation of a National Working Group on Distracted Driving that can work with a diverse set of stakeholders to develop such a strategy. In the months ahead, TIRF will take the lead on creating the working group, with the ongoing support of The Co-operators.

The report contains the results of an environmental scan and compiles statistics, recent initiatives and lessons learned about distracted driving strategies throughout the country, to establish a solid foundation upon which future activities may be planned and coordinated. It examines five main areas of focus: provincial and territorial government approaches to understanding and addressing the issue; enforcement strategies and outcomes; data collection and measurement; education and awareness campaigns; and legislation.

"The rapid pace of activity in response to this issue is unprecedented. Work is being undertaken on multiple fronts, both across jurisdictions and across sectors, to increase knowledge, track outcomes and identify solutions," said Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of TIRF. "Increased coordination and sharing of these activities can help to maximize the results of our collective efforts."

The report revealed that a primary emphasis was placed on improving data collection, and raising awareness and educating Canadians about distracted driving. In addition, there was a high level of coordination of activities within individual jurisdictions. Nevertheless, the problem of distracted driving persists. In fact, the research revealed that distracted driving is a significant contributor to crashes that is comparable to impaired driving in several jurisdictions.

The report concluded that distracted driving is widely considered a top priority by provincial and territorial governments across the country, which have implemented a number of measures to begin to address the problem. Researchers, non-profit organizations, industry professionals and media are equally engaged and working to strengthen efforts using complementary approaches. Yet there is a gap in specific mechanisms to facilitate coordination across groups of stakeholders, and efficient exchange of information and outcomes at the national level.

"Because distracted driving is still an emerging issue, and one that falls under provincial jurisdiction, bringing together stakeholders to help develop a strategic plan at a national level will be very valuable work," said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "The information in this report will serve as a resource for the National Working Group on Distracted Driving as well as decision-makers across the country who share our concern for road safety."

TIRF will be working closely with D.I.A.D. in early 2016 to form the National Working Group and engage its members in the development of a national action plan.

Distracted Driving in Canada: Making Progress, Taking Action is based on information collected from a broad cross-section of stakeholders from all three levels of government, police departments, insurance companies, health care institutions, non-governmental, academic and community organizations.

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