© COUNTRY LIFE IN BC 2017
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The agricultural news source in British Columbia since 1915
Vol.102 Issue 10
On June 1, the Motor Vehicle Act was amended to increase the penalties for the use of a hand held electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. The fine for a distracted driving violation ticket is now $368, four driver’s license penalty points, and a $175 ICBC Driver’s Penalty Point Premium. That’s a total of $543 for a first infraction. A second infraction within a year will add up to another $886.
These are hefty fines but the really scary numbers are out there on the roads and highways: 20% of BC drivers admit to using hand held electronic devices while driving; the visual awareness of a driver using a cell phone decreases by 50%, and 27% of all BC car crash fatalities involve distracted driving.
Distracted driving isn’t new and it is not the exclusive domain of drivers on cell phones. It used to be referred to as undue care and attention. I remember seeing a classic example of it on West Fourth Avenue in Vancouver in the summer of 1967 when a young man gazing sidelong at an especially attractive pedestrian drove his Impala into the rear end of a Mercury waiting to make a left turn. Fortunately, it all unfolded in slow motion and there were no serious injuries.
There will always be a certain number of daydreamers behind the wheel, absorbed in their thoughts and not paying proper attention to what they are doing, but it is hard to imagine that their numbers would come anywhere close to the 20% of drivers who admit to using electronic devices while they are driving. Some even profess to be good at it. Kind of like the intoxicated driver who believes that the alcohol in their system actually makes them more competent.
Of added concern is the total number of all drivers who have some sort of active device with them and are literally accidents waiting to happen. Cell phones and tablets are now ubiquitous. It is nearly impossible to be in any public space without being surrounded by people absorbed with a hand held something-
To be fair, it’s not all so mundane. There are endless examples of the business and professional benefits of the wireless world but you have to wonder at what point all of that connectedness crosses the line from practical to pointless. In the case of distracted drivers, it goes beyond pointless to outright dangerous.
Wireless distraction isn’t a phenomenon restricted to time spent behind the wheel of an automobile. It is a condition that can affect any human activity. Distracted pedestrians, distracted parents, distracted students, distracted employees -
As our world becomes increasingly wireless and connected, the same peril faces us all: the more connected, the more distracted. Eventually you cross the line from being distracted to being A distraction. For the kid’s sakes, we really should be aiming higher.