News Views: Spot the twits

Distracted driving-related crashes kill, on average, more than 90 British Columbians a year.

One only has to stand at a street corner for several minutes, or look over at the driver beside you at a traffic light to see the ineffectiveness of the B.C. ban on using hand-held electronic devices while driving.

Some drivers try to disguise their behaviour, using speaker phone and holding their cells below the steering wheel while talking, or wrapping their phones up in a scarf and holding it just below their chins.

Those drivers with their eyes down are not likely just looking at their shoes.

This despite the fact the ban has been in force since 2010, and carries a fine of $167 and three penalty points.

Some may argue that talking on a cell phone while driving is no more dangerous than eating a sandwich while doing the same, or drinking coffee, changing the radio station or singing out loud, for that matter.

But fact is, distracted driving-related crashes kill, on average, more than 90 British Columbians a year.

ICBC has a campaign, “Drop it and drive,” to eradicate such behaviour.

Hand-free devices, while maybe not as reliable, are available for those who can’t resist.

Still, some drivers see no shame in texting or talking on their hand-held phones while on the road.

Taking a quick glance down at your phone to read a text, or taking an incoming call might not seem as dangerous as drinking and driving or speeding, but it’s pretty close. Distracted driving ranks right behind the latter two when it comes to causing deadly collisions.

A new campaign, Twit Spotting, aims to stop people from texting while driving by posting pictures online of people doing so. We shouldn’t have to embarrass folks into changing their behaviour, but maybe that’s what it will take.

Statistics and awareness programs, such as Drop it and Drive, while well-meaning, haven’t worked, yet.

Then again, people didn’t just start wearing seat belts overnight.

It may take more time for people to understand and recognize the safety issue here, for them to stop acting so indignant in this regard.

Enforcement can only do so much. Statistics and education can help. Maybe shaming will work.

Ultimately, though, it’s up to the drivers themselves, to put their phones down while driving. It’s not that difficult to do. But maybe some people prefer to learn the hard way.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News