Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ontario Might Ban Cell Phones in Cars...and Every Other Gadget!

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says he's considering following suit with many other cities in requiring that people use Bluetooth headsets or speakerphones when chatting on a cell phone in the car. This move makes perfect sense, and is really only for the benefit of everyone's safety. But then he continued on to discuss banning any electronic device one might use in the car, like portable navigation units or smartphones that can be used for e-mailing and web surfing. While I understand the need to make our roads safer, fining someone because he was hitting the "home" button on his GPS device, or reading an e-mail at a red light, isn't going to solve anything.

You can pick and choose devices to ban or not to ban, but then where do you draw the line? I have a satellite radio receiver in my car: can I be ticketed for pushing a pre-set button to change the station? After all, how is this any different from selecting a radio station on the car's factory stereo system? Or rifling through a book of CDs or audio tapes, which people have been doing while driving for decades! Many of these devices are just replacing the old methods of yesteryear. Instead of grabbing an audio tape out of the case to pop it into the cassette deck, we're connecting our iPods or surfing through satellite radio channels. Instead of holding up a poster-sized map to check for directions, we're punching in addresses on a portable navigation device.

It's important to note that I am not encouraging multi-tasking while you're driving on a 400-series highway in the GTA, or anywhere, for that matter. If a guy is swerving from lane to lane because he's in the midst of a heated discussion with cell phone in hand, or a young gal runs a red light because she's texting her girlfriends while driving, by all means, charge them with unsafe driving as you would charge anyone that's driving in an unsafe manner. What I am saying is that a complete "ban" could result in bogus tickets being handed out to people who are driving safely. Are we going to ticket people who sing in the car as well because it's distracting? Moms that are diffusing a back seat fight between the kids? Or dads enjoying quick sips of morning coffee while on the way to work? I think it's more important to target unsafe drivers as a whole, but leave the reasons to each, individual instance.

Frankly, I think if I was coerced into having my hands at 2 and 10 and my eyes focused on the road 100% of the time while driving, I'd space out from sheer boredom and stiffness, and be more likely to drive erratically, or fail to react quickly in the event of a potential accident. But maybe I'm just fooling myself...

Using handheld cell phones in the car is already banned in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Manitoba, as well as in U.S. cities like New York and, most recently, California.

[Photo: As cell phone bans continue to come into effect around the world, will we see huge leaps in the sale of Bluetooth headsets and speakerphone devices like the one depicted here?]

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Jim V. said...

Ban the phone completely, how many times I have seen oblivious motorists yapping on the phone at intersections unaware the light turned red. The same applies to oblivious pedestrians also yapping on the phone crossing on a red light. I am not a mobile phone user never owned one and don't care to do so.

Anonymous said...

evrything is about votes not common sense,
yes cell phones cause some distraction - so do radios, children yelling, tv inth car, a homeless man sitting in the snow, market advertising on roads and so on
banning cell phone use is not the solution

if we ban everything that might cause a problem lets start with doctors and the number of inadvertaent deaths er year due to their analysis of things

why not just turn canada into a fascist state

foolishness mostly,its eduscating people and evising wayto use it safley that is the answer not banning it

harryb said...

As a high volume cell phone user for business throughout the day, I whole heartedly agree that hands free is the way to go.

Perhaps this would also stop police officers using their in-car computers whilst driving.
Time for a little training in that regard too!
Harry B

Pete J. said...

This is completely foolish. There has been no overall increase in the per capita rate of auto accidents over the last 30+ years.

Inattention, poor drivers, poor decisions, speed, and road conditions cause accidents.

Does anyone really believe that if we removed every distraction from an automobile there would be no accidents or even less acidents?

Terry Markus said...

To the Anonymous Said, judged by your ability to spell, education should be your first priority. Then again, you might have just been texting this while driving.
Accident anyone??