Hands on the wheel – eyes on the road

Distracted driving claims more lives annually in British Columbia than impaired driving according to ICBC statistics

Michele Taylor

Caledonia Courier

It’s been five years since the BC Government banned the use of handheld (personal electronic) devices in the province. Distracted driving claims more lives annually in British Columbia than impaired driving according to ICBC statistics from 2009-2013, that adds up to about one quarter of all car crash fatalities.

Society has become inundated with information, technology and ‘connectivity’ – we are so plugged in to everyone else – but people have lost the connection with the real outside world. You can’t go anywhere without seeing the rampant eyes-down-screen-stare, I’m guilty of the same, at the doctor, in line at the store, waiting in the parking lot. There is no time however, that I think it’s OK to pick up that phone in my car. And today, I’m thankful for my safe choice.

While heading home after a long day I turned the corner to head up the street and here is a young boy, maybe 10-years-old, on his bike stopped in the middle of the street. He’s texting on his phone, maybe he is texting a parent that he would be home soon. Or texting to meet up with his friend. The point is he was stopped, in the middle of the road without even thinking, to answer this device for whatever reason.

We are losing key safety when we become so immersed in our connectivity that we no longer connect with the world we are actually in.

If it (read: I) had been an equally distracted driver turning that corner the young boy on the bike could have been seriously injured or even dead. I’ve witnessed a few cases of distracted driving recently; from the woman in the sports car talking on her phone as she pulled out of the gas station onto the busy street to the elderly gentleman in the pickup truck looking for his destination while perhaps being given directions through the phone held to his ear.

There’s an urgency we feel when that device is ringing, dinging or vibrating; a need to be instantly available to whatever is happening on the other end of the device. That urgency often causes safety and precaution to be ignored.

Take the challenge and put the phone away while you are out in your vehicle, on your bike or even walking around and be a (safe) part of your community. Remind young drivers and cyclists that their devices are a distraction and graduated drivers should be reminded that the use of any hands-free device is prohibited by law. Use safety first before using devices, pull over to answer a call or text if you are expecting an important call or message.

No text or phone call is worth a life.

 

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