How long will it be before someone dies, or kills another Yukoner because they were talking on the phone, or texting while driving?
Will it be you?
It could be. Easily.
Most people have answered a phone while driving.
The things are ubiquitous, and their ringer calls to us like the mythical Siren. It is damn difficult to ignore.
And flicking that handset open and carrying on a conversation while driving is akin to sliding behind the wheel after downing three beers.
Apparently, despite all its cleverness and dexterity, our species, Homo sapiens, has a hard time holding a cellphone, turning a steering wheel, shifting gears, checking the rearview mirror, shoulder checking, signalling and touching brakes while carrying on a conversation with a demanding daughter. Or son.
Well, most people.
Let’s not kid ourselves. This isn’t anything new. The perils of driving and talking on a cellphone have been well documented for more than 10 years.
Researchers have determined the brain has a hard time concentrating on the road and on a conversation at the same time. When we’re on the phone, we are either not giving our full attention to the person we’re talking to, or the road.
And the road never says, “Did you get that?”
Now, some argue that people listen to the radio all the time. But the radio doesn’t talk back, or demand a response.
Of course, we talk to people while we’re driving all the time, but they are sharing the same road experience and can tailor their conversation to events on the road.
And let’s not forget that the technology is getting much more sophisticated.
Handheld computing technology has advanced exponentially.
Today, in addition to holding the cellphone, turning a steering wheel, shifting gears, checking the rearview mirror, shoulder checking, signalling and touching brakes while carrying on a conversation, you can read an e-mail and write a reply.
It’s called multitasking.
Others might call it idiocy. But there are many people who do it.
And, really, besides common sense, there is nothing on the books preventing it.
Such activities are not against the law in the Yukon, and there’s no evidence it’s a priority for the territorial government.
But most other provinces have acted to ban the practice.
Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, BC and Ontario have all outlawed it. Alberta announced it will introduce legislation soon, as has Manitoba.
Enforcement is a problem, but it always is.
However, having a law on the books does send the message that the practice is against the societal norm.
And that less-than-subtle message could probably save someone’s life.
Besides, as Aaron Mcgowan notes in his letter on page 8, if the government fails to pass legislation banning the practice, it bears a measure of blame for any cellphone-related traffic deaths.
It’s an good point. We thank him for making it. (Richard Mostyn)