Distracted driving is rapidly becoming a ‘societal addiction’ issue

Multi-tasking a way of life. If we can have a meeting on our Bluetooth device while driving at high speeds, then we must be saving time.

I was watching some old video footage of the drag races they used to hold out at the Boundary Bay airport years ago. Among many great old memories, I was listening to the announcer as he was describing the scene at the staging line.

“The drivers sit forward, both hands gripping the wheel tightly. They glance quickly at each other, then stare intently at the lights. Their foot has pressure on the gas pedal and the second the light turns green they mash the pedal to the floor and hurtle down the quarter mile ahead of them.”

Ironically, today that scene is played out at every traffic light in the Lower Mainland a thousand times a day. Drag racing was considered dangerous, risky, an accident waiting to happen but the drivers were wearing flame retardant coveralls, gloves and helmets. Their cars had roll cages and emergency vehicles were on standby.

The highway driver however wears a suit, slacks, dress or skirt, sometimes even putting clothes on or taking them off as they are driving. While the racer is concentrating on the sound and feel of his vehicle, acutely aware of the position of the driver next to him, the city driver is often eating, drinking, texting or phoning while he accelerates to the next light, without a parachute to slow him down at the next intersection.

We are hearing that distracted driving is becoming one of the main causes of accidents and deaths on our roads. Speed, distracted driving and alcohol are now the top three causes of car accidents. Combine any one of the three and the odds of causing a serious event increase 10 times over.

Authorities examine ways to penalize drivers using cell phones but are fighting a “societal addiction.”

Surveys show that many drivers are very confident that they can use their mobile devices while driving. People who would never consider drinking and driving have no qualms about phoning, texting or setting devices while they are in traffic.

We have all eaten while driving. We’ve yelled at our kids back in those days when they jumping from the back seat to the front. We’ve tried to pick things up from the floor while driving and many of us have had those very close calls when we’ve had to slam on the brakes because we weren’t paying attention.

How do you determine what is a distraction? I am a dog lover but I get very annoyed when I see someone driving with a dog on their lap. In my First Responder role, I have seen what a deployed air bag can do to a little dog sitting between the steering wheel and the driver. In my opinion, drivers with dogs in their laps are distracted and are just as negligent as those owners who leave dogs in a vehicle on a hot day.

It’s all about time and we are all in a hurry. Multi-tasking has become a way of life and if we can have a meeting on our Bluetooth device while driving at high speeds, then we must be saving time.

Recently I answered the phone on the way out to my truck. I drove to the end of the driveway, and the phone went dead. I had my house phone in my hand, not my cell phone. Time to slow down.

It seems we’re safer on the drag strip. At least that’s what McGregor says.

Langley Times

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