Texting and Driving

Texting on a phoneI listened to an interesting interview on CBC Radio this morning. A young woman from Edmonton was being interviewed about texting on her cell phone at the same time that she was driving her car. To add to the distraction, she would also smoke and eat while she was texting.

This was not a big deal. Yes, she had narrowly missed pedestrians in a crosswalk once and would frequently fail to notice that the traffic light had turned green as she focused on the text message. I just need more practice to get better at it was the observation that she made to the interviewer.

Thank goodness I don't live in Edmonton because I don't want to meet her! No problem said ex-Solicitor General John Les, BC had plenty of laws to deal with drivers who use a cell phone while driving. This is true, but really only after that driver has done something wrong like failing to see a red light or straying onto the wrong side of the road. Then police can write a ticket for the bad driving behaviour.

What about driving without reasonable consideration for others using the highway or driving without due care and attention, both offences under the Motor Vehicle Act? In my experience it is difficult to obtain a conviction for these offences after a crash. It is highly unlikely that the court will convict just because the driver is holding a conversation with one hand and the lives of those around them on the highway in the other.

Do we need a preventative law? A law that realizes that using a cell phone to talk or text while driving is a dangerous thing and stings the driver before something bad happens because they are distracted? Some Canadian provinces agreed with this viewpoint. Newfoundland led the way followed by Quebec and Nova Scotia in prohibiting the use of a hand held cell phone while driving. Unless drivers choose to hang up and drive on their own I think that it is time for the BC Legislature to have another look at the subject.

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TEXTING and DRIVING (PREVENTATIVE JUSTICE?!)

‘An ounce of prevention - better than a pound of cure’! “The efficiency of police can be better measured by the absence of crime - than by the conviction of offenders” (Sir Robert Peel)
Surely the police who observes someone driving a motor vehicle while using a cellular phone - have reasonable & probable grounds to believe that person is committing or ABOUT to commit the indictable offence of ‘dangerous driving’ (per the Cdn Criminal Code) >>>

249. (1) Every one commits an offence who operates

(a) a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place;

Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1)

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

495. (1) A peace officer may arrest without warrant

(a) a person who has committed an indictable offence or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has committed or is ABOUT to commit an indictable offence;

An arrest need not necessarily result in a charge - but would be justified - and would certainly be a ‘preventative’ measure!? - Ted

Contributed by E-Mail:

As a cell phone user, I will agree British Columbia needs to adopt a law making it illegal to use a cel phone while driving. I have in our area seen to many times a cel phone user who does not use their signal lights because they are holding a cel phone in their left hand, drivers running red lights, and drivers not paying attention a all what is going on aroung them while driving and using a cel phone.

Contributed by E-Mail:

There are many dangerous distractions and this is the argument they use when they refuse to take action on the cell phone issue. I say, even if you can't deal with all of them, at least tackle one of the main causes of driver distraction. The hands free issue is a red herring. It's not the physical distraction that's so dangerous it's the inability of the human mind to concentrate on carrying on a conversation and operating a motor vehicle in complex traffic situations.

As to motivating this government to do something about it, you can pretty much forget it. These politicians are driven by their ideology and not by those things which are in the public interest but conflict with that ideology. The ideology in this case says that they will not restrict the right a citizen to talk a cell phone while driving because too many of their supporters are guilty of doing just that. That may be overly simplistic and cynical but that's the way I see it.

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Here in the Philippines we have a big issue with people TEXTING while driving, there are even signs on the freeway warning people that texting while driving causes a lot of accidents… I freak out every time we get a driver trying to pull that stunt.

Seize the phone?

A friend of mine (a former RCMP Inspector) told me years ago that if you're in a collision, and you suspect that the other driver was distracted due to cell phone usage, and the police attend, you should let the police on scene know immediately as that gives them the grounds to seize the driver's cell phone as possible evidence. If the investigation leads them to suspect distraction, the police can apply for a search warrant to examine the phone for text and call records.

Can anyone confirm whether this is (still) true? What evidence do the police need to seize/examine a suspect driver's cell phone?

Author of "Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists." www.brucebutler.ca

Sounds Reasonable

You will need a reason to say so, not just a suspicion.

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