James Bartlett Brebner once said, “Americans are benevolently ignorant about Canada, while Canadians are malevolently well informed about the United States.” How right Brebner was. While Americans lionize French-Canadian women, the beauty of British Columbia and the angelic voice of Celine Dion, the chary inhabits of America’s attic lambast Hollywood cinematic bunk, the gross naiveté that passes for American patriotism and 3.2% beer. But recently, the Yanks have gained extra ammunition in their international cockfight with their snowmobiling northern brethren. According to recent polls, Canadians are poor drivers.
Of Pop, Pedals and Portly People
Kanetix just wrapped up a distracted driving study, and discovered that eight out of 10 Canadians admit to at least one poor driving habit. The top offense is eating and drinking while driving. A staggering 39% of Canadian drivers admit to sipping a soda – or “pop,” as the Canadians would say – and nibbling a snack or two while cruising. Coincidentally, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says that 25% of Canadians are obese, with that number expected to climb to 30% within five years. Ironic, eh?
The next major offence discovered by Kanetix is speeding. Men are the worst offenders, with a full 41% admitting to the occasional joy ride. Speeding not only vastly increases the potential for dangerous accidents, but also balloons insurance premiums, decreases fuel efficiency and may result in more emitted pollutants – but try telling that to the Canadians, or the Germans and their beloved Autobahn. The bronze medal goes to texting and talking on hand-held phones while driving. Both are illegal in the Great White North. Applying makeup arrives near the bottom, with only 3% of Canadians admitting to putting on makeup while driving. Assuming Canada is not brimming with metrosexual men, that means 6% of women admitted to freshening up while gunning through green lights.
Are Canadians Annoying?
But bad driving is about more than illegal habits and mascara. According to a 2011 poll by the Canadian Automobile Association, three out of four Canadian drivers are more irritating now than they were five years ago. Only 2% of respondents believe that the average Canadian driver is less annoying than he or she was half a decade prior – bless their eternally optimistic hearts.
The Dangers of Road Rage
Road rage is when mild-mannered people, the same ones who throw baby showers and offer housewarming presents, turn in purple-faced warriors vying for the occupation of Mafian hitman. In recent years, Canadians have been tossing off the shackles of civility and indulging their pre-Neanderthal selves with malevolent glee. Out of over 5,000 Canadians polled by the CAA, 86% believed that road rage was the most annoying motoring habit. The other top contenders, which included cutting people off, tailgating, excessive aggressiveness and constantly switching lanes, were also concerned with belligerent motoring. Is the Canadian citizenry morphing into a self-centered bunch of rally-racing hopefuls in need of anger management therapy?
But road rage is more than an annoyance or a joke. The report, “Death and injuries from road rage: cases in Canadian newspapers,” by Reginald G. Smart and Robert E. Mann noted that, “It is possible that, on closer inspection, collision statistics could reveal a significant role for road rage as a cause of death and injury on Canadian roads.” The report indicted men as the primary perpetrators with a disproportionately large number of female victims. According to the CBC in the article, “The Drive to Survive: Reducing Road Deaths in Canada,” over 200,000 Canadians have met death while driving in the last 50 years, more casualties than in both World Wars. Annoying? Try deadly.
False Math: C+ = B+
But here’s the kicker: The average Canadian driver thinks he or she is better than the average Canadian driver. In Kanetix.ca’s poll, 19% of respondents called themselves a “perfect driver,” which either illustrated their extreme naiveté, arrogance, or 5th-grade sense of humor. A recent Insurance Corporation of British Columbia poll showed that drivers ranked other motorists as a C+ while bestowing a gracious B+ on themselves. As ICBC psychiatrist John Vavrik noted, “People have a hard time looking in the mirror and recognizing that they’re part of the problem.” To curb the popularity of a raised middle finger and lowered right foot, ICBC is advertising a simple prescription, a la Mister Rodgers: smile and wave. Wave with five fingers, please.
In reference to poor Canadian driving habits, CAA spokesman Jeff Walker said, “The good news is they are all correctable behaviours. If we concentrate more on good driving habits … we will all benefit.” All of us except Americans, that is. Americans still have light beer, and their most famous singer is best known for a detachable nose and child molestation lawsuits. Suddenly, bad driving doesn’t seem so bad.