EDITORIAL: New technology a driving force

With more gadgets coming out, there is increased concerns over distracted driving

We may think we need wearable technology – such as Google Glass or the new Apple Watch –  and manufacturers would like us to think so, too.

But the last thing we need in this day and age of multiple distractions is something else to divert our attention from the responsibilities of operating a vehicle.

Most drivers would probably agree that erratic behaviour on the roads has not decreased over the past 20 years.

Indeed, it appears we are now paying the price for past leniency in what seems to have emerged as current norms of driving – unsignalled turns and lane changes, sudden swerves within lanes or into the line of oncoming traffic, unexpected decreases in speed and failure to respond to traffic signals.

Those who have ever wondered  “what’s up with this guy?” have probably discovered more than once, on closer approach, a driver juggling the wheel and a cup of coffee; glancing down at a text message; or with a cellphone clutched to his or her ear.

Since they, clearly, don’t see themselves as part of a problem, it would be meaningless to tell them that, on average, 30 people a year die as a result of distracted driving in the Lower Mainland alone – and some 88 provincewide.

Similarly, it would probably mean little to those with such an undeveloped sense of self-preservation, that current police fines could bend their pocketbooks by $167 for distracted driving to $368 for driving without due care and attention.

So let these remarks be addressed to those of us who place a greater value on life.

It’s time we demanded a much higher standard, and a much more stringent series of penalties for distracted driving that will anticipate the wave of new attention-grabbing technologies.

The B.C. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles believes that current regulations against using hand-held devices will also cover wearable technologies. He thinks continuing to monitor the situation is an adequate response.

We’re not betting on it.

When human life is at stake, we suggest, we can’t afford to take an overly optimistic approach. While it would be nice to believe that all human beings will behave responsibly, given a new set of temptations, bitter experience demonstrates otherwise.

If somebody can do something unwise, most likely somebody will do it.

 

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