EDITORIAL: No excuses
Texting and driving can be deadly. Ditto for talking and driving. And even though it’s now against the law, many B.C. motorists still haven’t got the message about distracted driving.
A recent ICBC-commissioned survey found that half of respondents witnessed other drivers texting and talking on hand-held devices “several times a day.” But it seems nobody really wants to admit it. Only 16 per cent of those same respondents answered yes to using a hand-held while driving over the past year.
And those who do get caught red-handed usually have a good excuse.
During a September traffic blitz aimed at distracted drivers in B.C., police handed out more than 3,500 tickets and heard plenty of excuses. Recently ICBC distributed a list of the top 10 excuses drivers offered up, which ranged from ludicrous (“But it was an emergency call to my wedding planner!”) to plainly defiant (“This is a bogus law”).
But as any traffic cop will tell you, a distracted driver is a dangerous driver.
And as smartphones become more ubiquitous and more text-weened teens get behind the wheel, the streets will become even more dangerous.
So, what will it take to get drivers to put down their cells?
Well, new legislation introduced in January 2010, hasn’t led to a perceptible change in drivers’ habits.
And socially speaking, texting and driving doesn’t carry nearly the same negative stigma as drinking and driving — even though it should because it can be equally dangerous.
Likely, it will take more educational campaigns and incrementally stiffer fines, just as it did with the battle against drinking and driving, to get drivers to rethink their driving habits.
Here’s a sobering stat that could be used to kick off the next awareness initiative aimed at texting and taking drivers: Every year, distracted driving results in more than 117 deaths and 1,400 serious injuries in this province.
See, there really is no excuse for driving distracted.