Distracted Driving Month in B.C.

No PhoneHey you! Yeah, YOU, put the phone down and pay attention to where you're driving! In 2015 police wrote over 44,000 traffic tickets for distracted driving violations in B.C. ICBC tells us that about 30% of crashes in B.C. involve driving while distracted. Recent changes to the distracted driving legislation saw fines change from $196 to $348 + $175 from 4 penalty points yet look around you in traffic and see how many drivers you can find with an electronic device in hand.

The last time that ICBC commissioned a poll on distracted driving almost everyone agreed that texting while driving was dangerous, but 40% of drivers with cell phones had used it while driving in the preceding six months.

There is no good time to drive while using an electronic device, but this month could be even more risky for those who can't leave the phone alone. A press release from ICBC this week advises that:

ICBC, police and volunteers have worked together to plan more enforcement deployments across the province with over 70 police enforcement events and over 50 Cell Watch deployments with volunteers roadside this month. The aim is to give drivers the clear message that if they drive while distracted, they're even more likely to be caught.

So, if we know that this is not a good idea, why do some of us do it? Perhaps we could ask the same question of impaired drivers, speeders or those who don't stop at stop signs. I suspect that it's a combination of putting one's perceived needs ahead of everyone else, our rationalization that we're good drivers so we can do this safely or we don't think that there is much chance of being caught.

There is even talk of cell phone use being an addiction that creates a compulsion to use it regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in at the time.

We should be very concerned that the age group most likely to ignore the rules surrounding electronics and distraction are the younger drivers. They neither have the skills nor the experience of an accomplished driver yet they willingly take on the risk of divided attention while driving.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation has published a National Action Plan on Distracted Driving for Canada. While education, enforcement and legislation are in place, co-ordination among stakeholders is missing. Hopefully the formation of the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving will facilitate co-ordination going forward.

Ultimately, the solution to the problem comes down to the individual, that is me and you. Together we can do things like shutting off our phone when we get into the vehicle, install an app like OneTap that silences notifications while driving, refusing to talk or text with friends and familiy while they drive, pull over and park to text or make a call. Got the message?

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Comments

Distracted Law Making

This probably will anger a few,but hear me out.I want to be clear, I do not condone texting while driving,or any interaction with a touch screen device.I think that the distracted driving law,which is actually "use of a hand held electronic device,really missed the mark.The laws were written and enacted in response to a statistical rise in car crashes attributed to cell phone use.The term distracted, was then applied and adopted to combat the perceived problems inclusively.In effect,the laws ignored putting the focus on the most egregious form of distraction,and bundled it along with other distractions.If you want to solve a problem,the first step is to recognize what the actual problem is.

The real trouble started with "Smart phones".This is a whole new level of interaction with an electronic device.For argument sake,majority of functions are visual,and depend on focusing on a screen.People have to quit treating them like phones.The truth is,they are computers more than phones,but because of the evolution of these devices,the name has not changed and nor has the perception of how stupid it is to use one while driving.I would be curious to see how many people would be as comfortable booting up, and using a laptop,or reading the paper,as they are using their smartphone while driving.The other factor that really compounded the problem,is the age group to first embrace, and put texting to the forefront of phone communication, was the teens to early 20's group.Reallity is,combine device use, and lack of driving experience and judgment the results ended speaking for themselves.Driving is managing distractions of all types,and the biggest part of that is learning to understand use judgment of how to manage all distractions and potential situations.

Solutions,Change the law from distracted driving,to using a touch screen device while driving.Make the penalty appropriate for the offense,not the same as looking at the time on your phone while at a red light.That just distracts the focus on the real issue,and trivializes the penalty for a much more serious offense.I think ICBC should do a campaign on how"Phones" have evolved, and embrace the problem for what it is.They are computers,quit playing catch up by increasing fines,get ahead of the curve and look at it from a different angle.

Don't be Like Mark

30 for 80

I would guess that out of the 30% of accidents attributed to CELLPHONES 80% happened due to there not being enough Mississippi-es between the offender and the vehicle ahead. If everyone maintained a proper following distance, this stupid excuse "my phone made me do it" would not come up as often as it does.

I think that the handheld device law only made people hide their phones when using them and by extension took their eyes away from the road making the situation worse. Think about it: when you're looking at a phone perched up on-top of your steering wheel - you can still see 80% of the road behind it, but when you are looking down on your lap - you can see 0% of the road, and your inner ear is off axis.

Not that I'm encouraging looking at your phone at all while driving, but bear with the uncomfortable thought since its the reality: apparently 30% of accidents are now attributed to cellphones - and they are apparently rising - but the rise is not well correlated to cellphone adoption which came significantly earlier. Cellphones were around for almost two decades with an exploding growth, but the "cellphone accidents" have just been steadily on the rise after the new laws came to power and the cellphone tickets have since skyrocketed. This is a classical cash grab - identify what people are doing en masse, deem it wrong, profit.

Collecting $250 for catching someone holding their phone at an intersection does not address the root cause. And the root cause is not the cellphone - its drivers who don't relate their immediate actions to safety. Not keeping proper distance doesn't even register on the radar of most drivers or the media, despite 80-90% of traffic around lower mainland kissing each others bumpers most of the time. Even commercial truckers are acting exempt from common sense riding up to people's bumpers like a possibility of a pile up has not crossed their minds.

The solution for the following distance dilemma is manufacturer/regulation/engineering related, and it's simple - put/mandate back-up sensors on the front of each vehicle and make an annoying chime come on when your following distance is inappropriate for your speed. Some luxury cars even press the brakes for ya - so whats the problem - madate this genius feature on all new vehicles and see some real positive results - just like with seat-belts, and stability traction, and ABS.

What about the others?

 

I would guess that out of the 30% of accidents attributed to CELLPHONES 80% happened due to there not being enough Mississippi-es between the offender and the vehicle ahead

So the other 20% (of your guess, which is based on?) would be things like hitting pedestrians, T-bone crashes, head-on collisions and like that. I guess.

Airplane Mode

You mentioned an app that people can download but most (if not all) phone have “airplane mode” which turns off the radios and prevents receipt of incoming calls and messages – as I understand it.  This may be a simpler way for those who are not into apps and want a ready solution.  It’s easy to turn off and on and anyone who flies probably has used it.

Difference between Actions - App or Airplane

The problem with turning on a mode in a phone, or turning it off again, is that the phone owner has to remember to do so, each and every time they get behind the wheel. And, of course, they must do so before starting to drive instead of as an afterthought or it's kinda redundant.

Whereas something like the OneTap app can be set up (as mine is) to work automatically as soon as the vehicle starts moving - no buttons to push, and it will self-cancel after the vehicle has been stopped for a short time. But while you're driving, your phone won't ring or vibrate, removing the urge to 'check' who just tried to get in touch; meanwhile, whover they are, they'll either receive a text advising why you're not responding, or get put through to your voicemail.

And, if (like me) you use Google Maps pretty frequently, the app doesn't interfere with the operation of this.

Speaking of flying - one of the amusing side effects of the app is that as soon as the plane starts down the runway, it kicks in automatically, believing that you're driving ... a plane, or something.

If you download it and try it out, you'll quickly see why it won the Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Award.

 

Ask the Automakers

Instead of complaining about the distracted drivers, why not petition auto manufacturers to have a device in EVERY automobile that when you start your vehicle it "kills your cell phone or wireless device" from being used. The auto manufacturers already have bluetooth and other wireless services in vehicles, so it would not be hard to implement this and eliminate the distracted driver syndrome all at the same time. It would be much more cost efficient than developing driverless vehicles that would end distracted drivers once and for all. By simply killing cell phone and Internet access from an automobile is easy and probably already in most vehicles. Simply turn it on when starting the vehicle.

It would expose the ruse

So suppose they did it - all vehicles now disable phones - which is completely bonkers and an apogee of inconvenience - your cloud maps won't work for one, your passengers won't be happy. Also signal blockers are illegal as per CRTC regulation - with good reason, but suppose it worked as intended and nobody bypassed the system. That would render the electronic handheld device laws obsolete. But guess what - the rate at which accidents happen is not likely to change. Then it will be obvious that cellphones weren't the problem, and that thousands of people have been ripped off of 100's of millions of dollars. Class action suits to follow. Kind of what's happening with automated enforcement now - class action suits one after another, whole municipalities are now court ordered to refund their speeding and red light camera tickets retroactively.

Much more effective, and not as legally challenging, is to mandate the vehicle manufacturers to have sensors and annoying beeps that ensure the proper following distance is maintained and apply brakes in emergency situations automatically - something that some luxury cars are already starting to do without legislation. That would have a profound effect on accident rates.

My Cell is Turned Off

Distractions are distractions no matter in what form.  Some far more insidious than others, to be sure .... but they ALL impair your ability.

My Dad told me of the hoot and holler when Philco put radios in cars in the early 30’s.  And I remember the nay-sayers hollering about automatic transmissions being introduced around 1948.  Terrible because a driver would have no challenge to keep his/her attention.

Then, of course, the studies done for the Transportation Ministry which showed NO DIFFERENCE between hand-held and hands-free devices, insofar as distraction level .... done before texting was an issue.  But they made one legal and the other, not.  Then they wrote exemptions for police, first responders and emergency personnel .... as if they had some super-human abilities.

Me?  My cell is turned off unless I fall off the bike and need to call 911. 

Distracted Driving

Penalties need to be as stiff as drunk driving or stiffer.  24 hour suspensions and tow car!  The only thing that gets the violators attention is cost.  Financially, inconveniently and humiliating.  As duly noted, drivers have not altered their blatant disregard for the law so time to anti-up the consequence. I ride a motorcycle and the violators are very obvious to me, when I get their attention (rarely) and motion for them to hang up the cell, I am cordially ALWAYS given the royal salute. And I might ad, most have kids in the car.  Bad parenting at best.  The law only applies to all other road users, just not them.  Time to pay the piper. 

Oh to be in England, or like that ...

... where they're getting really serious with the penalties for new drivers.

24 hour suspensions and tow car!

What I would like to see, rather than towing the car, is impounding the phone for a month or two.

Get 'em where it hurts.

What I would like to see...

Is state keeping it's hands off when it comes to depriving people of their personal property in feel-good preventative measures.

The ruse is getting tiring as all these folk are arguing against their own interest to mitigate an issue in a wrong way. Social stigma, public shaming and us vs them is not a civil approach to real issues. Why do you think people en-masse are breaking speed limits and skirting cell-phone legislation? Because in 99% of the cases they don't crash. Not doing something necessary/convenient/luxurious because there is a measly 1% chance that they or someone else may get hurt (if even) is patently unreasonable, absurd and a sign of mental incapacity. The actions of the majority prove that they think the same (thankfully), although most hypocrites would never explicitly agree to it. This is a double-think phenomenon, and it must be uprooted. Let us be honest with ourselves and each other. There is just too much virtue signalling here and the real problem is lost on most everyone. We already have driver licensing reviews and insurance premium penalties to address the actual high crash drivers, and LAW MANDATED insurance to compensate the victims.

There should be a holistic approach to the situation, where real causes are recognized and the physical possibility of getting into such circumstances precluded by technology.

We need manufacturer mandated annoying beeps based on forward facing sensors whenever a vehicle is not keeping 2 mississipies - adaptive cruise control and automatic breaking for collision avoidance. We don't need our property being taken from us because some other fools were not responsible with theirs. Don't punish everyone for the misdeeds of the few, especially in a way that is radical, dictatorial, authoritarian and unconscionable in a western liberal context.

We don't have a problem with cell-phones or speeders, we have a problem with luck relying risk-takers - lets inform them of their risky moves as they are making them.

 

Will it work in the winter?

Sounds good to me but I think the technology needs to improve.  I know that the forward-looking sensors beep like mad when there is a snow and ice buildup on the front of the car.

Hmm, interesting point...

I would think that there are two possible solutions to that:

- Infrared supplementary detectors
- EM (Radar) supplementary detectors (unlikely due to radio emissions)

And the fail-safe would be defaulting to turning the system "off" - it would just advise the drive that the conditions are severely bad and they should exercise caution

Caution?

You mean, in these wintry conditions, they should actually put the phone down for a minute in case the car can't deal with the reality of the situation? 

Electronic warnings

I mean driver warnings are a great feature! My car informs me when the temperature drops to +3C - "Ice possible drive with care". Which I always rephrase "Drive possible, Ice with care :)". But the point is that I do take notice from the electronic warning, instead of from losing the grip. And personally I think that it really doesn't matter what one may have in their hands as long as they don't allow themselves into situations which they (their car) can't deal with. But I am continually agast at the laws that deprive folk of their property or money for something that may happen, especially when the only sure-way to enforce such laws is in situations when its obvious that nothing serious can happen - i.e. at red lights.

I would love to see a rangefinder becoming a standard feature on all the cars with a built-in warning informing drivers when their following distance is below the recommended 2 seconds.

Or

Or people could just take responsibilty for how they drive,and maybe even take some pride, in doing something properly.

Submitted by E-Mail

I saw a mid aged woman yesterday in the Longwood mall parking lot, get into her car, start it, put it in reverse, put a phone up to her left ear (effectively blocking her view out  that window), and back out of her stall, using her right hand to steer, and presumably her knee to hold the wheel, while she changed her grip.

No way she could see what was going on around her, and she had no idea I was approaching in my vehicle, and no idea there were pedestrians walking around her as she was backing up.

I wish I had had a dash cam !  !

They just don't get it.

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