Canadian race car driver says distracted driving is so bad that he feels safer on the track than the highway

Ian Hardy

January 8, 2016 3:26pm

Canadian race car driver Parker Thompson may help put things in perspective for those thinking about picking up that smartphone while driving. Alberta-born Thompson states that he feels safer driving a race car at full clip than he does driving the speed limit on a public highway because he so often sees people breaking the law.

Remarking at a B.C. high school as part of his Drive To Stay Alive campaign, Thompson said, “I feel safer driving a race car 240 km/h more than I ever would on a British Columbian street … and the reason for that is that all the drivers are really focused and our safety measures and our cars are far more than anything you would find on the street.

“In racing, I know that taking my attention off the track for even a second can have serious consequences, and it’s no different when driving on our roads and highways. By educating a new generation of Albertans about the dangers of distracted driving, we can prevent a lot of collisions before they happen,” he continued.

Most provinces, including Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, have over the last few years increased the fines and demerit points for those caught driving with a mobile device in-hand. The Government of British Columbia recently launched a survey to understand what it should do about drivers that contravene the law, as deterrence through financial penalty hasn’t worked as well as intended. The province banned the use of handheld devices while driving in 2010, with fines of $167 and three demerit points, which are among the lowest in the country.

icbc-distracted-driving-infographic

Source CBC, ICBC
  • Omar

    I don’t live in BC but that has to be a slight exaggeration. Sure the likelihood of getting into a car crash due to a distracted driver is probably higher than doing so on a race track, the actual dangers associated with getting into a car crash driving through a city at 60km/h compared to 240km/h aren’t even comparable.

    Distracted driving is an issue, no doubt about it. But rhetoric like that, in my opinion, takes away from the seriousness of it… Like you know it’s a purely politically motivated statement.

    • TP

      I wouldn’t call it exaggeration.
      Other drivers many of whom may also be distracted
      Pedestrians many of whom are not focusing on the surrounding.
      Other factors – pets, animals, garbage on the road, kids on the street…
      At least on the race track, these are all heavily monitored and restricted/prohibited.

    • Omar

      To be fair, he said driving (not crossing the road or being a pedestrian) because of other distracted drivers. Doesn’t change a fact that a typical accident in a downtown street due to distracted drivers isn’t comparable to an accident on a racetrack.

      Highways are another story.

    • norsem4n

      Highways, everyone is going the same direction.
      Professional drivers without any distractions vs. people with cell, table, wifi, enter/infotainment in the front dash.

      Living in downtown Toronto is deadly. Distracted peds and drivers, brutal.

    • dekker

      Thompson is just making the simple ans accurate statement that they are prepared as are their cars to engage at very high track speed. The average driver is not as involved in their commute and often distracted by their surrounding ,passengers, drinking coffee etc.
      The professional will walk away from a 180km crash that would flatten a regular vehicle.

  • TouchMyBox

    A $167 fine is pretty laughable. You get charged the same for people’s lives in danger as you do if you skip your fare on public transit. Should be $1000 minimum.

  • MoYeung

    90% + people drive cars in Canada, what are they going to do? Take the bus? I don’t think so…

    • HiKsFiles

      Track lessons would be a good start !

    • MassDeduction

      Incorrect. I didn’t know, so I decided to check Stats Can. Their “General Social Survey” (GSS) indicated that 74% of Canadians aged 18 and over went most places by car. That’s undeniably a lot of people, but it’s also undeniably less than 90%. If you included people under 18, then the number would drop far further as 17% of the Canadian population is aged 14 and under and aren’t even allowed to drive. Add in the 15 year olds and it’s worse still. It’s therefore impossible to get to a figure of 90% of people driving cars in Canada.

      Where I live (Victoria), the number of people who use alternatives to the automobile continues to grow. “Bike To Work Week” is a huge event and 25K people participated in 2015 (about 16% of Victoria’s total workforce of 160K). And that’s just one alternative mode, lots of people here take the bus, or walk to work. Walking to work is actually surprisingly common in Victoria since we’re a dense community so distances are relatively short. I alternate between cycling and walking to work, depending on the weather and what I feel like. I do not have a driver’s licence, and don’t desire one.

      It’s easy and comfortable to assume everyone is the same as you and the few people you know, but it’s rarely the case.

  • Dave Grant

    What percentage of accidents occur because of distracted driving while stopped at a red light?

    That’s one stat they never publish (I’d expect it to be nearly 0%).

  • disqusmy

    He wants to use his helm and protective suit when driving on highway.

    He wants a pit stop on the high way as well.

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  • JD

    I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I feel a lot safer walking across a race track during a live race than crossing a street in Toronto. Stupid Ontario drivers.

  • BetelgeuseOrion

    of course he does, a race track is a closed off road with emergency vehicles on hot standby, every driver is at 100% attention, many people observing and coordinating with full communications