BY JASON MOTA
Distracted driving is a problem that we have been trying hard to solve for decades now – in fact, as of September, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has started trying a little harder. If you are caught by a police officer talking or texting on any hand-held device while driving, the penalty is an automatic three demerit points and a fine of up to $1,000.
If you are in an accident because you were distracted, it’s even worse. The immediate penalty is six demerit points, fines up to $2,000 and/or a six-month jail sentence and a two-year licence suspension. Just like that, by picking up your cellphone to read one little message, and getting into an accident with the car in front of you, you could be waving goodbye to half a year of your life.
And yet, despite this reality, many of the people reading this will allow themselves to be distracted on their way home today. It’s just too easy to convince yourself that it’s OK to take a quick look, or to press a few buttons.
Because of this, many drivers have taken measures to ensure that they are unable to use their phone while they’re driving – whether they put it in the glovebox, turn it off or leave it in the back seat. Removing the ease of access will diminish the urge.
Driving while intoxicated also needs to stop. Just like distracted driving, it’s easy to justify a short drive home after only a few. You feel fine, so there shouldn’t be a problem. These are what some might call “famous last words.”
You aren’t invincible. You have to remember that. Just because something has never happened before doesn’t mean squat, because there’s a first time for everything. Most major life-altering or fatal events like car crashes happen in an instant. There is seldom any kind of warning or lead up to it. So, it doesn’t matter how quick of a glance you want to take at your phone, or how short the drive is while you’re tipsy, it won’t be quick enough to not put others in danger.
This is especially important to remember with winter and Christmas on our doorstep. The road conditions will only get worse, and avoiding accidents will become harder even if you are paying attention to the road.
Don’t make your friends and loved ones, or those of someone else, spend Christmas grieving. It’s such a simple decision to make, but it can be the difference between life and death, joy and sorrow.