Smartphone Addiction and How to Prevent Distracted Driving

Are you tired of hearing about distracted driving? Us too. However, it remains a major problem in British Columbia, even with ICBC and the provincial government announcing a new set of changes that will have poor drivers pay higher insurance premiums beginning this autumn (2018). To help prepare everyone, a province wide distracted driving campaign kicked off this month as police and ICBC attempt to change driver behavior. The “Cell Watch” campaign receives its apt moniker to highlight one area of particular concern – the deadly combination of driving and smartphone use. ICBC reports that among the 960 automobile accidents that occur every day in B.C., many are caused by inattentive driving due to mobile phone use in some shape or form. It’s not just texting, as even the simple act of using your Bluetooth function and having a hands-free conversation can negatively impact your ability to concentrate on the road.

The big question is that even with the frequent awareness campaigns and financial disincentives, why does smartphone use while driving persist? Experts are weighing in with an answer – smartphone addiction. Psychology Today reports that nomophobia, the irrational fear of being without or unable to use your mobile phone, affects about 40% of the population. Yes indeed, smartphone addiction is a real thing if not an outright epidemic, and it has forever changed driver behaviors in BC and around the world. Today, Park Insurance is here to supplement the ongoing campaigns to stop mobile phone use while operating a motor vehicle with some words to help you (or a loved one) put an end to this bad habit.

5 Tips to Keeping You Away from Your Smartphone While Operating a Vehicle

1. Understand That Being Sneaky Only Hurts Yourself (and Others)

While texting and smartphone use remains the second highest cause of motor vehicles accidents in the province, the number of distracted driving tickets issued in B.C. has steadily fallen for the past three years. What’s to credit for this phenomenon? ICBC states that distracted drivers are getting sneakier with their mobile devices, keeping them out of sight when they spy police cars on the horizon and in their rear view. But clearly, this doesn’t solve the problem, which is why police are watching for other suspicious patterns of behavior. In addition, the Cell Watch campaign has called upon the services of community volunteers to help spread the word about keeping “text free” when behind the wheel. In fact, for the past five years, BC police have urged pedestrians to help them fight the epidemic by taking photos of drivers (w/license plates) who are using their phones and follow up by turning them in.

Moving forward, it will be harder than ever to use your mobile on the “down low”. Please take the initiative and put your phone down because in the end you’re not getting away with anything, especially when the act can result in injury or death to yourself, passengers, and others on the road.

2. Let Smartphone Technology Help You Put Down Your Device

In our recent article about how to keep your teen from texting and driving, we named new developments in technology that effectively disable mobile phones when drivers are operating a vehicle. Apps such as CellControl and a wide variety of other iOs and Google Play applications can be downloaded on your device. When the app-enabled device enters the vehicle, the system recognizes it, and shuts down the ability of the smartphone to text, email, navigate the web, and more. The only function that remains is the option to call emergency services (i.e. “Call 911”). If you are trying to shake the habit of using a smartphone while driving, install the app on your device right away and force your hand when gripping the wheel of your vehicle.

3. Lock Your Phone in the Trunk

The glove compartment doesn’t cut it. Instead, place your phone in the trunk and lock it in until you arrive at your destination. It will be tough at first, as your phone literally and figuratively beckons from the rear enclosure, but eventually the calls will dissipate as you become accustomed to driving without it.

4. Let Others Know to Leave You Alone (While Driving)

While you can’t control all incoming contacts, there are those who are absolutely aware of the fact that you’re en route to a destination yet try to reach you while on the road. Establish a firm rule that they are not to attempt to contact you until adequate time has passed, and to not persistently distract you with numerous texts and calls.

For example, when leaving home, let family know about your estimated time of arrival so that they allow the appropriate amount of time to pass, which means the emergency call to pick up toilet paper will have to wait. Those at your place of work (boss included) will have to learn to understand that they are not to blow up your phone with calls/texts when on the way to/from the office and/or client meetings.

Somehow generations before made it through the day without being accessible every second of the day. Ask your friends, family, and coworkers to remember this fact.

5. Anxiety Sufferers and Smartphone Addiction (Seek Help)

For most people, smartphone addiction and excessive use can be kicked (at least while driving) by applying the above. However, the ramifications of nomophobia are compounded when you suffer from anxiety. A recent study has found that those who live with anxiety or depression are more dependent on their mobile devices, and will therefore find it more difficult to drive without accessing their smartphones. While this subject is beyond the scope of automobile insurance and safety advice, the referenced study certainly serves as a call to action. AnxietyBC and HealthLink BC have both provided resources for those who are struggling with the disorder.


Thank you for taking the initiative to seek out information about how to put an end to smartphone use while driving. Continue to check back on the Park Insurance blog for additional tips on safe driving and more.