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Technology and Distracted Driving

Samuel Gibbs of The Guardian Newspaper writes “Texting while driving hot button issue that has been labeled as a “widespread menace” by Brake, the road safety charity, which has been shown to slow driver reaction by 35% and increase the likelihood of a crash by 23 times for commercial drivers.” (Gibbs, 2014)

The increase of mobile technology has improved human life around the globe, increasing communication, sharing of information, and the efficiency of millions. However, there is one place it does not belong, and that is behind the wheel of a vehicle. A study done by CAA has revealed that in 2013 alone, 4 million crashes were caused by distracted driving in North America.  (CAA, 2014)

This raises the issue, what is society going to do about this rising epidemic? The most expected answer would be to make it illegal, or in this instance, more illegal, seeing as it was first fined in 2007. As of Tuesday March 18th, the penalty for looking at a mobile phone while driving, stopped at a light, or in traffic has increased from $155 to $280. However, the increasing cost of distracted driving will not stop there. The Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act, which was introduced to the Provincial Government on March 17th will exponentially increase the repercussions of being caught chatting or texting while driving. Under this Act, distracted drivers will be charged a minimum $300 and will lose 3 demerit points, while the maximum fine could be upwards of $1000. (Artuso, Ontario set to jack up distracted driving fines to $1,000 plus point, 2014)

But with the expanding range and use of mobile devices, are increasing fines enough to stem rampant use of technology behind the wheel? Transportation Minister Glen Murray doesn’t think so. In an interview with The Toronto Sun Murray states “It took us a long time to get people to try seatbelts – just reach over and click – it took about 20 years. It’s been about a 25 year – campaign to actually reduce drinking and driving.” He goes on to say that it will take much higher penalties, many more demerit points, educational programs and no-tolerance enforcement to quell the onrush of distracted drivers. (Artuso, Distracted Drivers out-kills booze, speeding:OPP, 2014)

This crackdown on mobile devices while driving is very overdue in my opinion. A study done by the OPP finds distracted driving has caused more deaths in 2013 than speeding and even impaired driving, why should it not be treated as seriously? Probably because, unlike driving under the influence, everybody does it, or has done it at some point. In this day and age, with technology and communication so readily available it’s hard not to. But eventually a line will have to be drawn, and I believe that March 17th 2014 was the beginning of that line. Texting and Driving Infographic Via http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com

Works Cited

Artuso, A. (2014, March 3). Distracted Drivers out-kills booze, speeding:OPP. Retrieved from Toronto Sun: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/03/03/distracted-driving-out-kills-booze-speeding-opp

Artuso, A. (2014, March 17). Ontario set to jack up distracted driving fines to $1,000 plus point. Retrieved from Toronto Sun: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/03/17/ontario-set-to-jack-up-distracted-driving-fines-to-1000-plus-points

CAA. (2014, – -). Distracted Driving. Retrieved from Canadian Automobile Association: http://distracteddriving.caa.ca/education/distractions.php

Gibbs, S. (2014, April 24). Apple’s iPhone ‘lock out’ patent could end texting while driving. Retrieved from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/24/apples-iphone-lock-out-patent-could-end-texting-while-driving