Editorial: Driven to distraction
The B.C. government has a major selling job to do to get distracted drivers to put away their cellphones and stop fiddling with their GPS devices and sound systems while they’re driving.
Slapping people with $167 fines hasn’t seemed to make much of an impression. Since the ban on cellphones and other hand-held devices was instituted last February, 32,000 tickets have been issued, raising $5.2 million, and people are still dying because of distracted driving. In fact, according to the RCMP, distracted driving was a factor in a third of all crashes last year.
If people aren’t getting the message that distracted driving is dangerous, will pumping up the penalties make them sit up and take notice? Not necessarily.
Like drunk drivers who think they drive better while inebriated, most drivers think they alone can multi-task while everyone else around them are losers. They fail to understand that the brain simply cannot multi-task and driving while talking or texting is the equivalent of driving drunk.
Don’t agree? Try this test: While driving to work, try to figure out a complicated math problem at the same time. You’ll be surprised to see where you end up after you miss a turn in your normal route.
The myth of multi-tasking needs to be addressed and police need an ally to get their message across. One idea would be to engage cellphone manufacturers, distributors and service providers in a multi-year communication campaign warning about the dangers of distracted driving. These companies have made millions promoting the idea of anytime, anywhere communications, why shouldn’t they use some of those profits to promote safe driving? Will drivers give up their in-car technology? Probably not, but at least they will know better.