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HELSTON: A test for distracted driving

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
October 03, 2014 - 7:55 AM

My thumbs play hopscotch on the keyboard, darting from letter to space bar, and as they root around for the exclamation point, I fail to notice a dog bounding onto the road. My focus rears up from the text message but it’s too late.

Good thing it’s just an obstacle course and the golden retriever isn’t really a dog, but a laminated photo of one. I’m also on foot, not driving. But the texting part is real, and so is the take home message: distracted driving is dangerous, deadly, and dumb.

It’s a message police and ICBC have been trying to get out for years, and while the obstacle course is a creative, fun and engaging reminder, it sadly won’t solve the problem. I honestly don’t know what it will take to make people stop, other than losing someone to distracted driving, causing an accident, getting injured, or worse killed, because you just couldn’t wait to check that text.

Public awareness events and police road checks are up against a powerful force in this battle to save lives: our own addiction to technology. I get it—as a reporter I’m plugged in 24/7. My cell phone is always with me—on the breakfast table, tucked inside my pocket while I’m running and on my bedside table at night. But I admit it goes beyond work; my phone delivers emails from family, texts from friends, and the enjoyment of scrolling through Facebook.

But all that can, and has to wait until my foot is off the pedal. I learned in a bizarre twist involving a sandwich and some rogue hay bales how important it is to watch the road. It might not have been a cell phone in my hand, but that delicious gouda and prosciutto sub showed me the danger of distraction and the importance of keeping a safe following distance from pick-up trucks with unsecured hay bales.

According to ICBC, you’re four times more likely to crash if you’re using a cell phone. Distracted driving has even surpassed impaired driving with 32 people dying because of it over the last year in the Southern Interior alone. Those aren’t odds you want to fool around with, no matter who’s calling or texting you.

And who likes getting garbled texts from someone on the road anyway? There’s nothing smart about texting and driving. All you have to do is read the text I sent my boss during ICBC’s walking obstacle course:

‘This is a AT&T text. For an obstacle course.this I hard! Bdykfj  .’

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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