Canada, particularly in Quebec, has been tackling the important issue of ‘distracted driving’ head on with added fines, demerits and even jail time. Distracted driving can be doing just about anything that takes your eyes off the task of driving, but are specifically concerned with the number one issue of using a mobile device to talk or text. Ontario enacted Bill 31 – Making Ontario Roads Safer Act that was passed in June and went into effect on September 1 increased fines to $490 and three demerit points. Novice drivers could even have their license suspended for a minimum of 30 days. Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca indicated that if the current trends continue that fatalities from distracted driving may soon exceed alcohol related deaths while driving.
Even with all of the fines, demerits and threat of suspensions, distracted driving seems to be on the rise. Robert Po«ti, the province’s minister of transportation, indicated recently that over 66,000 tickets related to distracted driving were handed out in 2014. The figures are very high when it comes to younger people in grades 10 through 12, but even adults admit they practice texting while driving. According to an earlier study done by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), 90-percent were against the practice, yet 22-percent admitted that they either texted or read messages while driving. It is like an addiction or autonomic reaction when our mobile device sends out an alert of an incoming message, we must look at it and/or answer back immediately.
In their latest campaign, a new set of ‘shock’ videos release by Cha®ne officielle de la Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) are making a clear statement – innocent people can die from distracted driving. In one of the videos, the actor texting says, “I know I shouldn’t do this, but I can’t stop myself from texting” as the next scene shows a little girl laying in the middle of the road. It is very powerful and moving stuff to be sure, and many viewers will watch in horror at the tragic results, but then go right on texting while they drive.
We live in a ‘now’ society where people where used to getting their messages instantaneously and the people on the other end are expecting our results right away. As a wireless mobile society, we are bombarded with continuous news and we want to read it, act on it and move on to the next topic. My have times changed when it used to excite us to get an answering machine so when we got back to the house we could be assured that we missed no messages!