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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Driving distracted

A few years ago, before the age of texting, my best friend had an extremely serious car accident when she reached for the dipping sauce for her garlic cheese fingers. She was driving out to her boyfriends, had had a very hectic day, and was trying to cram dinner in while driving. When the sauce slipped to the side of the passenger seat, she cautiously reached over to grab it and in doing so, veered the car slightly right. As soon as the tires hit the gravel, it was a done deal. The car careened into the ditch and slammed head on into a culvert. It was totaled and thankfully, by the grace of God, my best friend was unscathed. Although for the next five years, her car insurance was through the roof.

We’ve all been guilty of driving distracted. The kids fighting in the back seat, a heated argument with your significant other, or the oddities you see walking down the street that not only grab, but hold your attention for seconds. And now, with the explosion of our need to be in “constant communiqué” with our friends and family, it’s only gotten worse. Talking, texting, emailing, and surfing – the list goes on – all while driving.

It’s as if driving seems so easy, so safe, and so insignificant that we can do anything while driving. 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.

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 concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or greater is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash than is a driver who has not consumed alcoholic beverages, and a driver with an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater is about 25 times more likely.

AT&T just released a short documentary that they hope will convince people to stop texting while driving. The campaign is geared towards teens in the hopes that the youth of the world will stop texting and driving but in this day in age, I think the video applies to everyone, at every age, and in every demographic.

And if that one didn’t make you take pause before picking up your phone while driving, check out this UK video showcasing the dangers of texting while driving.

Honestly, for me, it comes to know acknowledging and understanding that driving is a privilege! If you are on the road, behind the wheel of an automobile, you have a responsibility to the other people on the road to be as safe as possible – your driving education is up to date, your health and ability to drive and respond appropriately is in check, you aren’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and you most certainly aren’t engaging in distracting activities like texting while driving.

It’s about being accountable and taking a real, personal responsibility in your own safety and the safety of others when you choose to drive.

Having lost my father in a car accident when a driver hit a piece of black ice and hit my father head on, killing him instantly, and then my mother-in-law when she was hit and killed by a drunk driver, I know far to personally how dangerous the roads can be. So, I extend this plea to everyone – take your personal safety and that of others on the road seriously enough to drive with care, caution, and attention – it’s the least you can do!

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