There have always been distractions for drivers since the invention of the automobile, yet the buzz term “distracted driving” claims to be a new phenomenon. This deliberately euphemistic and ambiguous term has been used to justify a massive increase in fines to the public and higher insurance premiums hence more profits for Canadian auto insurers. In BC the court has even ruled it illegal to charge your cell phone while at a red light.
Does Distracted Driving really exist? Most personal injury lawyers that represent the injured will not be surprised at the answer.
According to the Distracted Driving Subcommittee of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) distractions while driving include looking at street signs or billboards, eating or drinking, combing hair, putting on make-up or shaving, visual distractions outside the vehicle, such as collisions, police activity and distractions within the vehicle such as talking with a passenger. None of these activities are new. The use of a hand handle device certainly has not replaced a sip of coffee or bite of a muffin!
Actual studies have shown a steady decrease in serious auto injuries in the last 20 years which reveals the new concept of distracted driving as an emperor with no clothes. Provincial governments, insurance companies and insurance associations appear to have bought into the idea that the “distracted driver” is a new phenomenon in order to rake in more money from the public.
The only evidence of a new distraction phenomenon comes in the study of pedestrians in the Unites States. Studies within the last 10 years have consistently shown a disproportionate increase in pedestrian injuries which can be associated with the use of handheld devices while walking.
“Distracted Walking” is the new and dangerous phenomenon. British Columbia should repeal the Use of Electronic Devices While Driving Regulation and replace it with the Use of Electronic Devices While Walking Regulation, as the current legislation does not ensure that drivers are paying attention to the road to reduce “distracted driving”. The use of hand devices while walking in busy urban areas and high traffic corridors however has been clearly shown to be a growing danger that needs to be addressed.
Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.