Province Looking To Keep Drivers Focus On The Road

It’s scary how dangerous using your cell phone can be, and that’s why a Provincial Statute banning the use of hand-held cell phones, and texting is in the works. A bus driver on youtube, driving a handi-bus was caught unawares when he looked up from sending a text message on his phone just as he ran into another vehicle in a head on collision.

The hidden cameras used to regulate drivers caught the incident, and is a heavy reminder that we may not have all our wits about us when the mind is focused on those everyday all important conversations.

The trouble with enforcing this proposed bylaw is that they must prove without a doubt to a stranger, “The Judge”, that beyond a reasonable doubt the accused was speaking on their cell phone. An officer can’t just simply say, “He had his hand up in the air.” By the time you pull the vehicle over, they can hide their phone, and that’s what makes this potential bylaw difficult to enforce.

This proposed bylaw would at least bring attention to the issue, and positively influence those who value the safety of others as well as themselves.

A nationwide online poll was recently conducted with 88 per cent of respondents saying they would support the ban on using hand-held cell phones.

In 2003, Newfoundland and Labrador put the ban on hand-held cell phones into affect. Quebec, and Nova Scotia followed suit in 2008, and Ontario recently passed the new bylaw which will start to be enforced in October.

A safe driving test, called the “Dumb Car 2.0”, was recently conducted in Calgary. While driving with an on screen monitor, participants were presented with obstacles often encountered while on the road, such as grabbing a cell phone or changing a CD.

Many found these tasks difficult including Jerry Bizot, a 41 year old truck driver who walked away embarrassed after crashing the virtual car. Many people don’t realize that these obstacles exist, and when attempted, result in acceleration of speed, and swerving.

Transportation Ministry Spokesperson, Tammy Forbes says the government is developing a legislation that focuses on all types of driving distractions, and behaviors. It will go far beyond the use of cell phones, and texting, and will include all electronic devices, and anything else that might distract the drivers eyes while on the road. Legislation for the new bylaw is tabled for discussion near the end of October.

On Tuesday, August 18th, Strathcona County drivers were the first to see the ban imposed on driving while using a hand-held cell phone. Those caught on their cell will face a $100 dollar fine for the first offence with subsequent fines of $200 dollars to follow each infraction afterwords. The one exception was that in a state of emergency, the driver can use a cell phone to call for help.

Studies conducted by the Canadian Automobile Association conclude that 20 to 40 per cent of all collisions are caused by driver distractions. The most recent data available today, says that eight out of ten collisions are caused by distractions.

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