Array

Array

Distracted driving laws are far too lenient

Last year, a, horrific head-crash in Central Alberta claimed the lives of both drivers. There were no passengers in either vehicle, or the carnage would likely have been much worse.

Last year, a, horrific head-crash in Central Alberta claimed the lives of both drivers. There were no passengers in either vehicle, or the carnage would likely have been much worse.

RCMP suspected the cause was distracted driving.

Such circumstances have become far too common.

According to a recent report, distracted-driving fatalities have risen by 17 per cent in Canada, surpassing, in some provinces, alcohol-related fatalities. (Speeding remains the major cause of crashes, far more than drunk driving.)

It’s long been held that drunk drivers are the main players in fatal carnage on our roads. But according to the latest reports, technology has given us a greater threat. Studies now estimate that distracted driving accounts for 30 to 80 per cent of collisions — and cellphone use is widely accepted as an crucial contributor.

“Distracted driving has always been a major factor in collisions, but it’s been a result of electronic technology that has really brought it to the forefront,” Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Pierre Chamberland told the CBC.

In recent years, provinces like Alberta have enacted distracted driving laws and launched campaigns to educate the public and hopefully encouraging drivers to change their habits.

But too many people are not getting the message.

Data compiled by Transport Canada for the most recent five years available — 2006 to 2010 — show distracted-driving-related deaths rose from 302 to 352.

“What’s more,” CBC reported, “these figures don’t cover all jurisdictions and might understate the problem by as much as a third.”

A May long weekend traffic enforcement blitz by Alberta’s Integrated Traffic Units, which include RCMP and the highway sheriffs, this year ticketed 56 drivers for using their cellphone while behind the wheel, according to an Advocate article. Another 48 motorists were charged with drunk driving and 3,843 speeding tickets being handed out. Among the alleged speeders was a 15-year-old Red Deer girl without a licence, apparently travelling at 187 km/h on Hwy 2 in a car.

The epitome of ignorance reported to Red Deer area RCMP was a few years ago when a male Hwy 2 traveller was spotted drinking coffee and reading a newspaper while steering with his knee.

In Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, distracted driving this summer was rated as the No. 1 road killer, according to RCMP.

In Ontario, the CBC reported, “For years now, distracted driving has surpassed drinking and driving as one of the top causes of collisions (in that province), where it is consistently blamed for 30 per cent of highway accidents.”

Since 2008, every province and territory in Canada, with the exception of Nunavut, has created laws against the use of cellphones while driving. The range of fines vary substantially — from a low of $100 in the Northwest Territories to a high of $280 in Saskatchewan.

Alberta, to its credit, has among the toughest laws, in terms of details: in addition to cellphone use, the law prohibits reading, writing, hygiene and numerous other activities while driving. But the fine is a paltry $172, with no demerit points taken away from the driver’s licence.

Does the Alberta punishment fit the crime?

Hardly. Where’s the deterrence to a practice that’s now causing more deaths than drunk drivers?

It would be fine to say the legislation is just another sign of the nanny state interjecting where common-sense should prevail.

But there are far too many drivers who display little common-sense, and endanger the rest of us. Quite simply, they need to be babysat.

“You pick up bodies for 27 years, it pisses me off,” said Tim Baillie, a retired firefighter from Surrey, B.C. “Ever since those damned things (cellphones) came in, there’s been distractions. It’s getting worse and worse.”

And it won’t get better until we treat the problem with serious intent, either by developing technology that makes phones inoperable in cars, or by developing deterrent legislation that is penal enough to have the needed impact.

Rick Zemanek is a retired Advocate editor.

Just Posted

Gabe Cuthand, Brandon McDonald, Dean Johnson and Dakota Dion drumming during a past Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at City Hall Park in Red Deer (Advocate file photo).
Indigenous People’s Day will be celebrated online on Monday

National Indigenous Peoples Day will be celebrated in Red Deer on Monday… Continue reading

(Black Press file photo).
A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Friday, June 18, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m.… Continue reading

(Black Press file photo).
AstraZeneca second dose ‘good choice’ despite federal guidance: B.C.’s top doctor

THE CANADIAN PRESS VICTORIA — British Columbia’s top doctor says there is… Continue reading

A person walks past a colourful wall while wearing a protective mask in the warm weather during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
A look at COVID-19 reopening plans across the country

As COVID-19 vaccination rates increase and case numbers drop across the country,… Continue reading

Ubuntu – Mobilizing Central Alberta co-founder Dieulita Datus (front left) received a Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant for the organization from the Government of Alberta. (Photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta organization promoting diversity, inclusion receives $6,000 grant from Alberta gov’t

Ubuntu was given the funds to further its work into equality and equity for all

A supporter of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi holds a sign during a rally in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Iran's clerical vetting committee has allowed just seven candidates for the Friday, June 18, ballot, nixing prominent reformists and key allies of President Hassan Rouhani. The presumed front-runner has become Ebrahim Raisi, the country's hard-line judiciary chief who is closely aligned with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iran votes in presidential poll tipped in hard-liner’s favor

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranians voted Friday in a presidential… Continue reading

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, left, and President Seiko Hashimoto attend the news conference after receiving a report from a group of infectious disease experts on Friday, June 18, 2021, in Tokyo. The experts including Shigeru Omi, head of a government coronavirus advisory panel, issued a report listing the risks of allowing the spectators and the measurements to prevent the event from triggering a coronavirus spread. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP)
Top medical adviser says ‘no fans’ safest for Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — The safest way to hold the Tokyo Olympics is… Continue reading

FILE - In this June 12, 2021, file photo, Rajkumar Haryani, 38, who painted his body to create awareness about vaccination against the coronavirus poses for photographs after getting a dose of Covishield vaccine in Ahmedabad, India. Starting June 21, 2021, every Indian adult can get a COVID-19 vaccine dose for free that was purchased by the federal government. The policy reversal announced last week ends a complex system of buying vaccines that worsened inequities in accessing vaccines. India is a key global supplier of vaccines and its missteps have left millions of people waiting unprotected. The policy change is likely to address inequality but questions remain and shortages will continue. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)
How India is changing vaccine plan amid shortages

NEW DELHI (AP) — Starting Monday, every adult in India will be… Continue reading

Chief of Defence staff General Jonathan Vance speaks during a news conference to , in Ottawa Tuesday August 30, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces says it is making progress in the fight against sexual misconduct in the ranks, but much more work needs to be done. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Freeze promotions until military commanders are screened for misconduct: Committee

OTTAWA — A parliamentary committee has called for a freeze on all… Continue reading

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Hussen says he is looking to municipalities to reshape local rules to more quickly build units through the government's national housing strategy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Cities should redo planning, permitting to align with housing strategy, minister says

OTTAWA — The federal minister in charge of affordable housing says he… Continue reading

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. On June 1, NACI had said AstraZeneca recipients "could" get Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for their second shot if they wanted, but Thursday went further to say an mRNA vaccine was the "preferred" choice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

When Gwenny Farrell booked her second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

Brooklyn Nets' James Harden, right, is guarded by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, center, during the first half of Game 6 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Bucks bounce back to defeat Nets 104-89 and force Game 7

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton scored 38 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30 and… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) brings the puck up the ice against the New York Islanders during the third period of Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinals, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Uniondale, N.Y. Tampa Bay won 2-1.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Point scores again, Lightning beat Islanders 2-1 in Game 3

Lightning 2 Islanders 1 (Tampa Bay leads series 2-1) UNIONDALE, N.Y. —… Continue reading

Most Read