Monday, May 11, 2009

Should Distracted Drivers Face Jail Time?

Yet another news item in the growing list of distracted driving crimes. In this case, we have a woman doing her nails killing another woman on a motorcycle. And her motorcycle helmet (not the light-weight, plastic-sheathed, styrofoam toys that we cyclists sport) could not save her life.

There is also a reference in the article to a driver killing a cyclist while downloading ring-tones.

Or how about this "caught on tape" texting bus driver?

It's hard to imagine what other evidence is required before our lawmakers take notice and deal with the issue of distracted drivers. Distracted drivers are impaired drivers and it's time that the law saw it that way. But instead of dealing with real safety issues like distracted driving they'll pass knee-jerk reaction laws to force cyclists to wear ineffectual styrofoam buckets so they can say they did something. Dealt with public safety... check... next issue.

That said, it sounds like Ontario may be the first province to get its feet wet in the area. A bill to make distracted driving an offense has passed third reading in Queen's Park and the government hopes to have a law in place by the fall. Essentially, drivers in Ontario will not legally be allowed to use hand-held devices to talk or to send e-mail or text messages. Well that's a start but unfortunately there's still plenty of fine tuning to do on the legislation due to lobbying by commercial transportation companies (and you just know there will be others) to get an exemption. Maybe they need to look at the bus video above.

So now I'm informed that Newfoundland has banned cell phones in moving vehicles. Well well, there is hope yet.

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