Vision Zero: What the numbers tell us

Thank you for a very successful launch of the Parachute Vision Zero Network. From partners signing up (by the hundreds!), to community organizations sharing our messages to governments getting engaged, we are thrilled with the response!

We are pleased to announce our second Vision Zero Summit! SAVE THE DATE! The Summit will be taking place in Toronto on October 16th and 17th at the Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel. Watch for more information coming soon. Click here for highlights from our first conference. Sponsorship opportunities are available but are going fast – interested in supporting the Summit?  Contact Scott Watson at swatson@parachutecanada.org.  

Now let’s talk about the data: as an organization, we are committed to providing evidence-based interventions to ensure accurate information is shared with our partners. Our Cost of Injury in Canada Report outlines how transportation-related incidences have a deep impact on the number of hospitalizations and ER visits nation-wide. Our goal is to use the most current evidence to share knowledge and information, and inform policy, interventions and practices.  

For example, the most recent evidence shows that drivers are just as likely to be distracted behind the wheel hands-free when compared to a hands-held device (full explanation below). This was not as widely known when initial distracted driving legislation was passed so this evidence is not yet reflected. So while evidence is necessary, there are other issues that can affect the implementation.

With that in mind we're proud to announce our next infographic on evidence-based interventions in rural settings and another case study that looks at the application of data on Edmonton and Toronto.  Have ideas for future case studies or info-graphics or blogs? Contact us here.

We are going to post our network member organizations online. If this is an issue, please let us know.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter and join our network!

Thank you,

The Parachute Vision Zero Network team


Hands-free vs. hand-held

All provinces that ban the use of hand-held electronic communication devices make an exception for devices that are in “hands-free” mode. The definition of hands-free varies slightly between provinces. Some provinces allow devices to be used if they require only one touch to be activated, while in other provinces the device must be voice activated or be activated prior to operating the vehicle. All provinces and territories with cellphone bans permit the hands-free use of devices with the exception of the provinces that restrict all electronic devices for graduated drivers. However, there does not appear to be research to support the contention that hands-free devices are any safer than hand-held devices.1 Several studies have found that hands-free devices cause an impairment that is comparable to hand-held devices.2 While it may seem intuitive to conclude that hands-free devices are safer than hand-held devices because they cause less manual distraction, the cognitive distraction caused by mobile phone use is an important consideration when determining crash risk.3 The physical manipulation of a phone (e.g. dialing) is undoubtedly more dangerous than talking on a phone because it requires taking one’s eyes off of the road.4 However, people talk on phones for a much greater cumulative duration than they manipulate it. The impact that a given behavior has on the incidence of crashes is determined by both its detrimental impact on driving and the prevalence of the behavior. It has been suggested that the legislation permitting the use of hands-free devices has given drivers a false sense of security regarding their use.5 In a 2010 poll, 30% of Canadians believed that using a cellphone while driving was only dangerous if it was hand-held.6 Another Canadian study found that 76.7% of cellphone users somewhat or strongly agree that hands-free devices are safer than handheld devices.7

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1 Ishigami, Y., & Klein, R. M. (2009). Is a hands-free phone safer than a handheld phone? Journal of Safety Research, 40(2), 157–164. doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2009.02.006

2 McCartt, A. T., Hellinga, L. A., & Bratiman, K. A. (2006). Cell phones and driving: review of research. Traffic Injury Prevention, 7(2), 89–106. doi:10.1080/15389580600651103

3Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation, Distracted Driving and Cell Phone Use While Driving (2007), http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/content/doctype48/production/distracteddrivingreportsept-07.pdf

4 Ishigami, Y., & Klein, R. M. (2009). Is a hands-free phone safer than a handheld phone? Journal of Safety Research, 40(2), 157–164. doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2009.02.006

5 National Safety Council (2012). Understanding the distracted brain: why driving while using hands-free phones is risky behavior. White paper. Retrieved from http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/CognitiveDistraction.aspx

6 Robertson, R. D., Marcoux, K. D., Vanlaar, W. G., & Pontone, A. M. (2011). Road Safety Monitor 2010: Distracted Driving. TIRF Road Safety Monitor, 2011(11F), 1–42. Retrieved from http://www.safetylit.org/citations/index.php?fuseaction=citations.viewdetails&citationIds%5B%5D=citjournalarticle_337243_19

7 Nurullah, A. S., Thomas, J., & Vakilian, F. (2013). The prevalence of cell phone use while driving in a Canadian province. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 19, 52–62. doi:10.1016/j.trf.2013.03.006