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Published on August 6th, 2014 | by Natalie Finnemore

Distracted Driving on Rural Highways – is it Safer?

Driving on a rural highway can be just as dangerous as driving on any major Greater Toronto Area highway because the problem of distracted driving knows no boundaries, said one CAA tow truck driver.

“It’s the communication devices and vehicle technologies that are the most common distractions,” said John Kimove, co-owner and tow truck driver for National Roadside Solutions in Sarnia.

The Toronto native turned Sarnia resident understands the challenges of working in big cities and smaller communities throughout his 20 years of experience as a driver for CAA.

“For tow truck drivers, we’re out there on the side of the highway and it can feel helpless,” he said of his concern for his safety and the safety of CAA members while performing roadside assistance services. Motorists who are not focusing on the road and do not show consideration for roadside assistance providers are a primary safety concern for Kimove and his fleet of eight tow truck drivers.

In his more than 3 million kilometers of driving experience as a tow truck driver, Kimove estimates that nearly 90 per cent of the recent collisions he has been called to were caused by distracted driving.

However, there are some lesser-known distractions that Kimove sees frequently behind the wheel. He recalled a time when a driver struck a tree because he wasn’t paying attention to the road.

“The man was eating while driving, and as he was peeling his orange, the juice squirted in his eyes,” he said. “The man’s vehicle hit the tree without even braking and the car was totaled.”

Kimove has three important tips for drivers to help them avoid the pitfalls of distracted driving:

  1. Do not use handheld devices while driving.
    “I see so many close calls. A split second of inattention and it can lead to tragedy.”
  2. Know your route before you start driving.
    “(Drivers) rely too much on GPS and it’s distracting. When the GPS is on, a percentage of your focus is not on the road. Plan your route and use a map so you know where to go before you leave.”
  3. Be aware of your surroundings.
    “People are not always aware of the vehicles around them. It’s important to be prepared for what lies a few seconds ahead. (Drivers) are not always paying attention to the next highway exit, and that can lead to aggressive moves on the highway.”

Learn more about CAA’s anti-distracted driving campaign and make your promise to focus on the road. CAA trains its tow truck drivers and provides them with technology to avoid distractions behind the wheel.

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