The province is proposing a ban on cell phone use including talking on cell phones and text messaging while driving.
In my opinion, it is about time.
I was stunned recently when I found a research study that showed that text messaging while driving distracts a driver equivalent to having several alcoholic drinks. That is a scary discovery considering drinking and driving is illegal almost everywhere. Yet every one, and their grandmother carries a cell phone, and uses them while driving.
Having spent a significant amount of time in a big truck over the past year or so, I have been able to observe driving habits from Winnipeg, across Canada in both directions. The one thing I have noticed is where ever there is a hazardous four wheeler, the driver usually has a cell phone attached to their ear.
Just watching the way people drive is usually a good indicator of if they are on the phone or not. I have lost count of the many times I have wanted to reach out my window and grab that phone out of someone’s hands because they are more intent on their conversations then their driving. They are usually oblivious of speed, hazards, road conditions and traffic. They are an accident waiting to happen.
Cracking down on text messaging is a no brainer – typing on some phones takes a lot of focus without adding driving while doing it to the mix. Although, this seems to be more a problem with the younger generation. Maybe a license suspension if a graduated license holder is caught texting should be considered.
I’d like to see the province take this matter even further. I have lost count of the many times I have seen people playing with their global positioning systems (GPS). Satellite radios may be nice, but they require more focus then an ordinary radio and should also be monitored. The same can be said for in-vehicle monitors, DVD players and video games.
All these items provide a form of distraction to drivers and should be monitored.
My question then becomes, who will enforce this ban?
I ask this, because I find it alarming how many police officers are doing their patrols, and consulting their laptops while driving. Next time you pull beside a police cruiser, take a peek, odds are you will find them checking an open laptop sitting to their right. I understand they are very important tools used by the police, however, again, not while driving.
I personally look forward to this ban, when and if it goes through – it will definitely make the highways a safer place to be.