Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Put Down Those Cell Phones, Ontario Drivers!

It's all over the news that the Ontario government is looking to enact previously-discussed legislation banning the use of handheld cell phones and other gadgets sooner than expected. Ontario would become the fourth province (to my knowledge) to restrict the use of gadgetry in a vehicle: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Quebec already have such rules in place. But from the sounds of it, Ontario wants to take things one step further, restricting the use of any electronic device: from portable GPS units to satellite radio and other items.

I want to first make clear that I agree with the ban, as do most Ontarians (it seems), regardless of the fact that many citizens admit to their own guilt in chatting while driving. I already own a Bluetooth speakerphone device, which I prefer using anyway (my arm gets tired after holding the phone up to my ear for extended periods of time!) But I will admit to checking my e-mails every so often, and the risk of getting a ticket will certainly deter me from doing so.

But what I don't agree with is the attempt to ban drivers from doing anything in the car that relates to an electronic device. As many people have asked: where do you draw the line? Can you get a ticket for taking a sip from your coffee cup? From constantly flicking the preset buttons on your car's built-in stereo system? From chatting to the kid's in the back seat through the rear view mirror? Singling out electronic gadgets just doesn't make sense. Yes, any activity that is clearly impairing someone's driving should be addressed. But isn't this already covered under the "careless" or "imprudent" driving charge?

Probably the dumbest argument I heard (via a TV news program) when asked if the ban would include a car's built-in gadgetry, like navigation, was that it's "better made and thus safer". If I'm reaching over to push a button on my car's built in stereo vs. my iPod, or a windshield-mounted portable GPS via a dash-mounted built-in navigation system, what's the difference?

Regardless of the odd stipulations, the government did assure that cops wouldn't be out and about nabbing thousands of drivers every time they see someone pick up a call. But keep in mind while you're scooting down the highways and side streets that officers will soon certainly be able to do so. And retailers: brace yourself for an influx of Bluetooth headset and speakerphone sales. If the situation in the Quebec market is any indication, Ontarians will be buying them up like hotcakes.

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Anonymous said...

Dumb... Cellphones, Sure... anything else just seems a little far fetch.

Can I make the call while driving if I see someone in distress, or should I take the time to look through a purse or such to find my headset/bluetooth device to make the call?

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Anonymous,

Actually, it is interesting that you mention people in distress. The TV debate I saw last night (I regretfully don't recall the man's name being interviewed) did allude to that topic. He noted that they do encourage and applaud cell phone use for such situations. He mentioned answering a quick, 3-second phone call from his son each day, for example, as being OK. But they're focus is obviously on people who are switching lanes and driving for minutes on end with the phone attached to their ear.

Anonymous said...

What happen to our freedom? They seem to be slowly stripping us of our most basic RIGHT, FREEDOM. This is just ridiculous the government has just gone to far!!!!!! I hate the government more now then ever. All the cops are corrupt and ABOVE the law and no one is free anymore. It's pathetic.

Mark said...

I just bought an iPod Touch the other day so that I could select music using cover flow, recognizing albums at a glance while driving. I thought that would be safer than having to read the never ending lists on my older iPod(2 gens old).
Had I not experienced a couple of "woah" moments while driving and searching for music I obvioulsy wouldnt ghave been concerned about it, but I have.

Two days after I bought the touch this story hit the news which will ban even that. Oh well. Probably for the best overall, but I will also likely cheat a bit.