Thursday, September 22, 2011

I should pull over before I write this post

The new distracted driver law that came into effect in Alberta on September 1st has started a debate about the validity of such a law. Most of this debate seems to do with the fact that you're not even allowed to adjust your GPS while you're driving (among other things), never mind operating a cell phone. The jury is still out whether a hands-free phone conversation is less distracting than having one pressed against your cheek, but hands-free phones are still OK. No more eating sandwiches (note to Ralph Klein - who once alluded to such a ban) while driving. No more applying mascara while driving, or reading the paper. You might laugh. I once spotted a driver, alone in a car, reading a novel driving north on Highway 2 between Calgary and Red Deer.

I think the biggest problem we have is that there is so little traffic enforcement in Canada, that the majority of drivers have been lulled into a sense of apathy. They know that the chances of being caught doing something illegal or unsafe is quite low, so they take the chance because in their mind, it's low risk behaviour. I have driven 12 hour road trips in Canada without ever seeing a police car along the route. This would be near impossible in the US.

I also believe that drivers get bolder as they get away with more stuff. I have talked to many drivers, who when asked why they do the illegal and dangerous things that they do while driving, answer "I haven't had a problem or accident yet."

It's like the smoker justifying their habit by saying "I'm healthy - what's the problem?"

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