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Eventual law could affect all kinds of gadgets
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 7:24 am 
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May 27, 2008 04:30 AM
Kerry Gillespie
Queen's Park Bureau
TORONTO STAR

Jurisdictions around the world are busy banning cellphones in cars but Ontario is looking into broader regulation to encompass all electronic distractions, the premier says.

"I know what they've done in other provinces and other states: they've just dealt with one item, the cellphone," Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.

But police say drivers tapping addresses into a car's GPS system or emailing on a BlackBerry have big distractions, too, McGuinty said.

"What about the next gadget that they haven't invented yet?"

McGuinty said he has asked Transportation Minister Jim Bradley to look at some form of "next-generation legislation" that would cover existing electronic devices like cellphones and future gadgets.

"I talk to the police and they say ... there's more than just one item (distracting drivers). I've asked Bradley to take a look to see if there's something we might do, which deals with distractors generally, and I think in particular, electronic distractors," said McGuinty.


This appears to be an about-face for McGuinty, who has consistently argued government can't legislate against everything and that a cellphone ban wasn't needed because there were already laws to prevent dangerous driving.

Just six months ago, when asked if Ontario should ban cellphone use while driving, McGuinty said:

"There are provisions right now, to be found in the Highway Traffic Act ...or the Criminal Code that allow for prosecutions for people who are driving carelessly. So, unless and until I get different advice from the people who work our roads, and look to their safety, we will maintain our position," he said.

"I guess one of the issues then becomes, so, where do we draw the line?

More than 50 countries have laws that ban cellphone use by drivers to some degree, including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

In 2002, Newfoundland became the first province to ban the use of hand-held phones while driving. Nova Scotia and Quebec have recently passed legislation to ban hand-held devices.

Fines range from a low of $100 in Quebec to a high of $400 in Newfoundland

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:21 pm 
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Ban the use of cell phones while driving, of course -- and the sooner the safer -- but it sounds like the good folks at Queen's Park are holding that up until they can breathe life into another of their clumsy ban-everything bills.

They may be wondering if they can go after in-car radios (including satellite radios), for instance. A radio = an electronic device that can result in driver distraction. Cigarette lighters too, for that matter (though they are electrical devices, rather than electronic). Oh, and GPS units, of course. And CD players. And console bins between the front seats (those are neither electronic nor electric, but hey, what the heck, as long as we're banning anything that might distract a driver, let's throw them in too; we can always revise them back out of the legislation if too many potential voters squawk, and as long as we do keep a ban in place it could be a nice little revenue centre).

A ban on cell phone use while driving has been suspiciously long in coming already: that's a serious, correctable safety issue. It should not be further delayed just so it can be used as a headline-grabbing bit to deflect attention from the less well founded provisions in some ban-everything bill.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:24 am 
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Why not just ban cars in general and we all take buses to work. I really think that the genaral pulblic should stand up for our rights and freedom. What is a "electronic gadget" Another big GREY area you can get a ticket for. My car came stock with an ECU/ABS/TractionControl, is that a gadget. We all use them while driving. Total BS..maybe next election you should really consider who to vote for . Oh and what about the police cars?, are they not full of electronic "gadgets" like radars,gps, cell phones and computers..go figure. A police chase is on and the officer is trying to input the licence plate of the vehicle ahead, how safe is that.??


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:53 pm 
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This is gonna' irk a few readers here,... but, ya' know, I think the drive-thru line at the local Tim Horton's is one of the most dangerous systems out there. Just try watching people trying to drive down the road immediately after leaving the exit. They're trying to pocket their change, get a quick sip of their coffee, and juggle whatever pastry delight caught their attention this time, all at the same time!!

I once saw a lady drive right up the curb (snowbank) then bounce back down into her lane JUST after exiting Tim's. When I passed her, she was yelling profusely at the coffee spilled all over her blouse and coat. And she didn't even have the sense to pull over. She was just wiping herself down while still driving along.

But I know Tim's is sacred ground for many, so I really feel bad for pointing out this serious issue ;)

Another "non-gadget" distraction I have seen on numerous occasion is map-reading while driving. I even had a lady rear-end me once while I was stopped at a red. After being wholloped from behind, I looked in my mirror and saw her pull her map down from her face! Grrrrrrrrrr!!

Oh! One more thing. They better exclude CB radios from the gadget definition list. Truckers would throw a fit. What I find strange is CB's never seem(ed) to cause a problem, but I see folks on cell phones absolutely "tuned-out" from their driving responsibilities. And yet, they're not all that different in function. Hmmmm


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:57 pm 
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Bookm wrote:
This is gonna' irk a few readers here,... but, ya' know, I think the drive-thru line at the local Tim Horton's is one of the most dangerous systems out there..

Another "non-gadget" distraction I have seen on numerous occasion is map-reading while driving...

Oh! One more thing. They better exclude CB radios from the gadget definition list. Truckers would throw a fit. What I find strange is CB's never seem(ed) to cause a problem, but I see folks on cell phones absolutely "tuned-out" from their driving responsibilities. And yet, they're not all that different in function. Hmmmm


These are all good points, Bookm, though I suspect that truckers never *seem* to cause a problem when CB-ing partly because we other drivers usually can't see what the truck driver is actually doing in the cab at the moment when his or her vehicle does something odd on the highway (we're usually too busy just trying to get out of the way and stay alive). Truckers spend a lot of time on the road (well, duh!) and accumulate a lot more driving experience than most of the rest of us, but each of them still relies on one standard Mark I brain and it just isn't wired to carry on a conversation about something other than driving and simultaneously pay sufficient attention to everything that's going on on the road.

Keeping up your side of a cell phone conversation is a new animal and completely different from even talking with somebody else in the car, because the person you're talking to on the phone has none of the on-the-spot clues that will cause them to notice what's happening in your driving situation. You pay attention differently when the other side of a conversation that has nothing to do with your driving is coming into your brain via an electronic device.

That said, though, I don't see how the map reading, GPS adjusting, Timmy spilling, radio adjustring, makeup applying, breakfast cereal eating (yep, I've seen it!) distracted drivers aren't covered already by HTA RSO 1990, cH8, s130, "Careless Driving."

We don't need new and possibly flawed laws to address situations that proven law already covers.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:20 pm 
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Bookm wrote:
This is gonna' irk a few readers here,... but, ya' know, I think the drive-thru line at the local Tim Horton's is one of the most dangerous systems out there. Just try watching people trying to drive down the road immediately after leaving the exit. They're trying to pocket their change, get a quick sip of their coffee, and juggle whatever pastry delight caught their attention this time, all at the same time!!

Don't forget to light the smoke at the same time :wink:

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:22 pm 
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casper wrote:
Oh and what about the police cars?, are they not full of electronic "gadgets" like radars,gps, cell phones and computers..go figure. A police chase is on and the officer is trying to input the licence plate of the vehicle ahead, how safe is that.??


Well, the policemen usually (I hope) radio (although this is using an electronic device) to base with the license plates, because I usually see policemen using their computers when quietly parked somewhere. How was your experience about that Mr. Bear?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:21 pm 
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racer wrote:
casper wrote:
Oh and what about the police cars?, are they not full of electronic "gadgets" like radars,gps, cell phones and computers..go figure. A police chase is on and the officer is trying to input the licence plate of the vehicle ahead, how safe is that.??


Well, the policemen usually (I hope) radio (although this is using an electronic device) to base with the license plates, because I usually see policemen using their computers when quietly parked somewhere. How was your experience about that Mr. Bear?


I'm not a bear ("our" Bear can speak very well for himself!), but I think the electronic stuff inside a police car is not our concern. These are the tools the officer was issued to do his or her job with, and that's that. Now, if he or she were driving while yakking on a private cell phone to a family member, or while playing with a GameBoy, that would be different! But I imagine that sort of thing would rarely happen -- like, never.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 8:06 am 
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Quote:
or while playing with a GameBoy


Now you're showing your age..... :D

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:51 pm 
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Always use radio while in motion, never computer. Don't have to look down to talk on the radio.....just straight ahead.

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