An article published in the Globe and Mail reports that in recent years, distracted driving has caused more deaths than impaired driving or speed-related collisions. A recent article from RBC Insurance says that about 72 per cent of Canadians admit to distracted driving and 9 out of 10 have noticed other distracted drivers on the road . Driver distraction is a factor in roughly 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North American each year.
This June, Ontario legislation was modified to increase the penalties for using handheld devices while driving. The fines for distracted driving are raised from the original range of $60- $300, to between $300 and $1000, and three demerit points. Distracted driving has been a prevalent issue since the year 2008. Every province and territory in Canada has implemented laws to deter the use of hand held devices while driving.
A handful of high-end vehicle manufacturers have implemented autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technologies, these manufacturers include, but are not limited to Mercedes, Acura and Volvo. A study released by the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States used insurance data examining claims for vehicle manufacturers like Acura and Mercedes-Benz who offer vehicles with and without collision avoidance systems (CAS).
The study found that vehicles equipped with a collision warning system (CWS) reported a seven per cent lower claim frequency compared to vehicles without these systems. Vehicles equipped with CWS and AEB showed a further reduction in claim frequency. Both Acura and Mercedes-Benz with CAS had a 14 per cent lower claim frequency compared to the same vehicles without these systems. Volvo recently released a study from Sweden, where they own 20 per cent market share, stating that their City Safety System, a collision avoidance system, has cut rear end collision claims by 28 per cent.
Today, we are constantly looking to increase technological intervention in ways that reduce the occurrence of human error. Researchers forecast that as vehicles continue to get safer and more autonomous, the number of vehicles needing repair will eventually drop. This is a logical argument, but it seems that human error will continue to prevail.
Our data shows that so far, the frequency of collision claims is not at all diminishing. In fact, claims volume has actually increased at an average of 4.63 per cent year over year between the years 2011 and 2014. Until CAS becomes commonplace, it will be hard to see if these systems have an effect on overall collision claims. For the time being, we must balance technological advancements and driver attentiveness to ensure that we are not being heavily reliant on collision avoidance systems to keep us safe.