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Saskatchewan drivers most likely to eat, microsleep behind wheel: survey

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WATCH: The list of dangerous driving habits is long and alarming and a new survey reveals what Saskatchewan drivers say they've done behind the wheel.

If there is one thing people agree on — it’s everyone else’s bad driving.

When asked about their own behaviours, six in 10 Canadians admitted to dangerous driving in the last 12 months, according to a new study from Finder.com.

The global comparison website recently examined the self-reported habits of 1,200 Canadians.

The Safe Driving Report 2020 revealed 63 per cent of Canadians — an estimated 19.1 million people — have engaged in reckless driving behaviour.

Read more: Distracted driving theme of October traffic spotlight in Saskatchewan

It found 88 per cent of Saskatchewan drivers admitted to at least one dangerous driving habit in the last 12 months — the highest in Canada.

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Alberta is the second highest at 81 per cent with Manitoba following at 76 per cent.

The top five dangerous driving habits in Saskatchewan included eating food while driving (63 per cent), forgetting to signal (42 per cent), speeding (38 per cent), driving while sleepy (25 per cent) with a tie between smoking and talking on a cellphone without Bluetooth (17 per cent).

Along with eating and forgetting to signal, drivers in Saskatchewan were also the most likely to: drive with their knees (14 per cent), drive under the influence of drugs (four per cent), drive the wrong way on a one-way (four per cent), ding a car without stopping (eight per cent), run a red light (13 per cent) and microsleep (four per cent).

Read more: Saskatoon teen clocked driving over 200 km/h on Highway 16: police

“Beyond just driving while fatigued, did you actually fall asleep while driving? And four per cent of drivers in Saskatchewan admitted to that, which is actually quite scary,” said Nicole McKnight, communications lead with Finder Canada.

Eating tops the list nationally, with 49 per cent of Canadian drivers admitting to snacking behind the wheel.

Fourteen per cent of Canadians admitted to texting and driving — 13 per cent in Saskatchewan.

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Nationally, 11 per cent report talking on the phone without using Bluetooth, which is much higher — 17 per cent — in Saskatchewan.

A number of Canadians also admit to outright dangerous actions like running a red light (nine per cent), driving with their knees (four per cent), driving under the influence of drugs (two per cent) and letting the passenger take the wheel (two per cent).

McKnight said when researchers looked at the overall trends across Canada, millennials self-reported the most as having dangerous driving habits.

“From driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, running red lights, texting while driving, they really took the top spot in all of those categories,” she said.

Read more: No breaks on distracted driving tickets with new fines in Saskatchewan, police say

However, Generation X are the next most likely to engage in risky driving behaviour (77 per cent), followed by generation Z (75 per cent), baby boomers (68 per cent) and the silent generation (57 per cent).

“The older generations in Saskatchewan were more likely to take sharp turns or run a red light, surprisingly. Even with speeding a little bit,” McKnight said.

The study also found that men are slightly more dangerous than women behind the wheel.

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“The areas where men were more dangerous than women were really when it came to speeding and driving with their knees,” she said.

The data comes from a national representative survey of 1,200 Canadians conducted by PureProfile.

For a representative sample among smaller provincial populations, including Saskatchewan, the survey needed to at least 25 to 40 people. Saskatchewan had 37 respondents equally weighted between men and women of all age groups.

Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and all three territories were excluded due to not having enough respondents.

Plan for distractions: CAA Saskatchewan

CAA Saskatchewan communications director Christine Niemczyk said it’s a good time for drivers to re-examine their habits before winter conditions add an extra challenge.

“There are so many distractions occurring with drivers, so it’s a good opportunity to remind drivers: do not drive distracted,” Niemczyk said.

According to CAA, distracted driving is anything that takes the eyes and the mind off the road.

“That includes moving to grab a coffee, smoking, grooming, talking to the kids in the back, any of that,” she said.

Read more: ‘Take care of your vehicle’: CAA Sask. gives tips for driving in cold weather

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Niemczyk suggested drivers prepare in advance and even appoint someone else in the vehicle to handle phone calls or text messages.

According to SGI, distracted driving contributed to 16 deaths and more than 4,500 collisions in Saskatchewan in 2019.

Distracted driving results in a $580 ticket and four demerit points for a first offence; penalties increase in severity for repeat offences.

Police across Saskatchewan have caught, on average, more than 500 distracted drivers every month in 2020.