Editorial: Just put the phone down

September is distracted driving and occupant restraint month

Campaigns against drunk driving have a lot of success over the years, taking it from something people turned a blind eye to, and making it unacceptable behaviour.

Apparently, distracted driving campaigns aren’t enjoying the same success at getting people to put their phones away and focus on the task at hand; driving a car and keeping yourself, and everyone else, safe.

After years of campaigns, RCMP are still issuing lots of tickets to drivers making use of their phones while driving. And if you’ve ever been behind a driver with a cell phone to their ear and watched as they wander across lanes, or slow down and speed up randomly, you know how far away their mind is.

And if they can’t pay attention to what their car is doing, how are they going to be ready for a kid popping out from between parked cars, another vehicle coming out from a side road, or any of the hundreds of other hazards you have to deal with while behind the wheel?

The RCMP have dedicated September to their distracted driving and occupant restraint program. That is, they want you to put away distractions, especially smartphones and make sure everyone, from babies in car seats to adults who should know better, as safely fastened in.

According to the Insurance Corporation of B.C.’s 2013 to 2017 statistics, an average of 77 people die each year where driver distraction was a contributing factor and another 52 people die each year for failing to use seat-belts or other restraint.

That’s a lot of deaths where all it would take is to stop using your phone for a few minutes or buckle your seat-belt up.

It’s not really been that long since cell phones were introduced, in the early 90s, and smartphones only gained widespread popularity in the last decade or so.

But in that short time, we’ve become addicted to constantly being in touch, checking our phones constantly for any new email, text or other communication.

But wouldn’t it feel nice to give up that stress for even just a little while? While you’re driving is the perfect time to declare you’re out of touch — no one can question you not answering them immediately when you’re driving, after all.

And no text, phone call or like on your Facebook post is worth risking your life or the lives of others.

–Black Press

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