Ignore that “beep”
“Ignore that “beep” until your car is turned off and you are safe to check your text message!”
As Teena is driving, she hears that familiar “beep” from her cell phone and guesses that it must be her friend responding back to the text she had just sent her, asking if she wants to meet up for a coffee. Teena had sent that text just before she left her last class for the day and now she needs to check the message, as that will determine whether she is going to go home now or drive straight to Tim Hortons. Finally, a red light, so Teena presses the brake and quickly checks her phone which has been sitting right in her lap. She knows she has about two minutes at this light, so she reads the message “sure, lets meet up at Timmy’s but are you okay for 5:30P bc I have 2 go 2 store first, quick stop”. Now Teena has to respond, but just as she is about to initiate the keypad on her phone, she hears a horn behind her..Oops, she says to herself, the light is now green, and she is feeling irritated as she had wanted to text back, but will wait for the next light. But even waiting until the car stops to text message with your phone, is against the law. Teena is aware of the law that the use of hand held electronic devices while driving, is banned in Ontario, but continues to take the risk of texting while driving as many drivers do.
This law came into effect on April 22, 2009. “This law is about keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel” Transportation Minister Jim Bradley stated at a new conference in Toronto on June 22nd. Ontario’s distracted driving law prohibits drivers to talk, text, type, dial, or email using hand-held devices. Calls to 911 are an exception. It is also illegal for drivers to use electronic devices such as a laptop or a portable DVD player while driving. The use of hands-free cell phone talking is allowed and drivers can purchase a Bluetooth kit or a hands free device to use in their car.
The practice of texting while driving has been viewed by many people and authorities as dangerous. Texting while driving leads to increased distraction behind the wheel. In 2006, Liberty Mutual Group, conducted a survey of more than 900 teens from more than 26 high schools nationwide. The results showed that 37% of students found texting to be “very” or “extremely” distracting. A study by the American Automobile Association discovered that 46% of teens admitted to being distracted behind the wheel because of texting.
If caught texting while driving, Teena can receive a fine of up to $500. In addition to this fine, she will receive a ticket from the Police for “distracted driving” and this can cause her insurance rate to increase significantly. Teena is not only risking getting a fine, but she is risking her life and the life of other drivers on the road. Sergeant Cam Woolley, of the Ontario Provincial Police Highway Safety Division which processes about 22,000 traffic accidents a year in the Greater Toronto Area, says that his division is seeing more collisions involving younger drivers using wireless devices. “They’re brought up on text messaging and they don’t recognize the risks as much,” Sgt. Woolley said. “There is the perception that they can multitask safely when they can’t. Combine the overconfidence with inexperience…and it kind of spells disaster.”
Hopefully, Teena will not be another statistic under the dangers of text driving. There are too many Teena’s out on the road, that still continue to text message while driving, and the law around the dangers of “texting while driving” needs to be strongly enforced just like the message of “do not drink and drive”. Texting is a great tool but when used responsibly and safely, and this does not mean that you should stop at a light and then use your phone, as Teena did, as your eyes are on your phone in those moments when they should be on the road at all times! “Beep”…it must be your phone, but that’s okay, when you get to your destination, then turn off your car and check your phone. The few seconds of checking while driving is not worth your life.