New Brunswick imposes tougher driving distracted laws

I am thrilled to see this legislation come into play in New Brunswick. Back in January, I wrote a post about the dangers of driving distracted. As I said in that post, it’s as if driving seems so easy, safe, and insignificant that we have this idea that we can do just about anything while driving; put on makeup, read the newspaper, shave, text, email, talk on the phone etc.

We seem to forget that we are all behind the wheel of a compilation of steel and mechanical parts weighing anywhere between 4000 and 15000 pounds going 30, 50, 110 kilometers an hour making it, in some senses, a very dangerous weapon. When we become licensed drivers, the safety and security of hundreds of people is intrusted to each of us and it seems to me, we are desensitized to the risk and the dangers and therefore, don’t seem to take it seriously enough.

They say if you drive while texting, you are 27 times more likely to be in an accident. Did you know that is tantamount to driving drunk? A driver with a blood alcohol level of .08% (NB’s legal limit) is about three to four times more likely to cause an accident; at .10% they are six times more likely; and at .15% (nearly twice the legal limit) they are 25 times more likely.

It boggles my mind that people need to be regulated to not drive distracted. But I guess that’s what it takes so I am thrilled that it’s finally here.

In New Brunswick, the law tries to address more than just driving while using your cell phone; it encompasses all those things that can impair drivers:

  • Cell Phones: You cannot make or take calls when driving unless your telephone is hands-free or single-touch. If there is an emergency, you can call 911. Only while driving a police, fire or ambulance vehicle are you allowed to make or take a call.
  • Texting: You are not allowed. Ever.
  • GPS: You can look at your GPS screen, but you cannot program or handle it.
  • MP3 or other entertainment devices: You can handle built-in devices. If you have a portable device plugged in while you drive, you can listen, but you cannot touch.
  • Display screen: If it is built into your vehicle, it is fine. Otherwise, you cannot have it in your view.
  • Two-way radio: You can use a two-way radio if driving for commercial purposes or driving a commercial vehicle (a bus or vehicle with gross mass of 4,500 kg or more), or involved in an emergency operation or search-and-rescue.

Drivers found in violation of the legislation can be fined $172.50 and lose three points from their license.

In Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador was the first province to ban the use of cell phones by drivers followed by Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and now New Brunswick. Almost all the United States have passed similar legislation and more than 50 countries have pass laws regarding the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.

Hat’s off to the New Brunswick government for bringing this important piece of legislation into effect!

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