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No Hand-Held Devices In Ontario Cars 584

Posted by kdawson
from the hands-where-i-can-see-'em dept.
NIK282000 writes "To cut down on accidents caused by drivers who aren't paying attention, in Ontario it is now a ticketable offense to text, email, or navigate with your GPS while driving. But it seems to me that they have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, because it is now also a $500 fine to change your radio station, change songs on your MP3 player, or even drink your morning coffee. It can also be enforced to the point where changing the climate controls on your dash can get you fined because it requires you to take your hands off the wheel. Though this was a good idea, it seems to have been taken a little too far."
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No Hand-Held Devices In Ontario Cars

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  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noundi (1044080) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @06:11AM (#29894657)

    Though this was a good idea, it seems to have been taken a little too far.

    Here's how I reason. Regardless if I can or cannot drive perfectly well while drinking coffee with one hand, for all I know this could be completely fatal in your case. And if keeping the right to drink my morning coffee while driving potentially means losing my legs or even my life simply because you also had those rights, then it's a very, very, very small price to pay.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @06:12AM (#29894663)
    It's easier and more profitable to ticket almost law abiding citizens than hard core criminals.
  • Re:RTFS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcdonald.or (985710) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @06:16AM (#29894687)

    Indeed it does. If the GPS is attached to the window, or dash mounted it can be used. If however you cause an accident by setting the address as you drive, you get the $1000 fine and points on your license.

    However, the biggest problem I have with this new law, is not that it exists, I live in Ontario and cheer that it is in place, is that it does not apply to police officers. They are allowed to use hand held devices (such as cell phones) while they are driving. What is it that makes a copper less likely to be distracted by a hand held device than you or me?

  • by cavehobbit (652751) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @06:22AM (#29894717)

    In the U.S., and I suspect Canada, cars are the instrument of death more often than guns are. Count then by gross total or per-capita population or per-capita car-owner/gun-owner, cars are more dangerous.

    I know people that have been killed or injured by drivers distracted by lighting cigarettes, changing the radio or reaching for something that fell on the floor, like a CD or cassette. It is no different than if someone carelessly shoots a gun off without aiming or caring where it is pointing. Only luck prevents something bad happening.
    I have been injured while biking by idiots not paying attention while driving, had my car hit by other drivers changing the radio.

    So no, this law does not go too far, in fact it does not go far enough. It should mandate that anyone found driving while distracted be charged with reckless endangerment of human life.

    Any driver involved in an accident while their car was moving should immediately have their license suspended and car impounded until cause can be determined. If they are at fault charged and if convicted of a simple infraction their license revoked. If injury or worse is caused they should be jailed. They are a danger to others.

    Everyone has a right to travel. No one has the right to endanger others. Those that do endanger others need to be held accountable for their actions, no matter how they do so: Car, knife, gun, chemical spill, whatever.

  • True, but that would require law enforcement actually out and patrolling. With a tickbox system, they can just sit on the shoulder with one eye on the Radar gun, and another on the lookout for those hooligans who ride in the HOV lane with a single rider.
  • by borizz (1023175) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @06:39AM (#29894817)
    Yes it is. There's a difference between smoke and the smell of smoking. Some stuff I pick up during my work (mail service driver) smells like all kinds of nasty, and there's no law against that. If he wants to smoke in his personal truck (if it is his employers truck and the employer prohibits it, its a different story), while he is driving it alone, that is his good right.

    It's not like all the other exhaust gases are healthy.
  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @06:50AM (#29894875) Journal

    I too would much prefer a more broad rule.

    I find people talking on cellphones tend to be looking roughly straight ahead. Attention is diverted, but it's not as bad as a lot of other situations.

    All my close calls involved other devices. One woman was putting on lipstick. Another guy was changing a CD. Another pulled into a 3-way intersection while looking for sunglasses.

    I was able to swerve (slightly) into the wrong lane to avoid all three, but in busier locations that'd make the situation far worse. I happen to live in a small city in BC(<100k people), but in a large city of millions, with dozens of lanes of traffic, you just can't pull off the moves I did. It'd mean bad accidents, so I fully understand the desire to prevent it.

    Regarding cellphones... many young people can operate them without looking at the screen or phone, and can drop them in an instant if necessary to grab the wheel. I'm really worried about other stuff more. Anything that takes your eyes off the road...

    (Oh, and FYI - I'm responsible and pull over when making calls. You like to drink morning coffee huh, on the way to work? Well screw you!)

  • WTF? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by netpixie (155816) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @06:52AM (#29894883) Homepage

    Who on earth thinks drinking coffee while driving could ever be a good idea?

    How do you change gear?

    I applaud this law.

    When you're in the car driving, that's what you should do, drive. *Not* eat sandwiches, drink coffee, play computer games, telephone, etc. etc. Doing so not only puts your stupid life at risk but mine as well.

  • by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @06:58AM (#29894911)

    "Any driver involved in an accident while their car was moving should immediately have their license suspended and car impounded until cause can be determined."

    So under your proposed law, if someone hits you and the cop isn't sure, you lose your license until he is. And if he makes a mistake and finds you to be at fault, you lose your license?

    No, that's far too extreme. You've gone beyond simple safety precautions and up into revenge.

  • by fredjh (1602699) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:05AM (#29894935)

    Politicians create additional laws so they can take credit for them. Yes, most places already have these laws, but it's better for the politicians to create new ones instead of reminding people about the existing ones or encouraging better enforcement, which wouldn't get them much publicity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:08AM (#29894961)

    Yes, that would be a problem if the law was at all like the summary says it is. It isn't of course, the summary seems to be fabrication and fear mongering.

    No-one seems to bother including the actual text, but this pdf was the closest I could find: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/news/statements/stat081028-chart.pdf [gov.on.ca]

  • by AndGodSed (968378) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:12AM (#29894987) Homepage Journal

    Because "Driving without care or attention" has two possible problems.

    1 - It is easier for a cop to say "I am fining you because you are talking on your cell while driving" as opposed to "I am fining you for driving without care or attention because you are talking on your cellphone while driving" and to make the point without wasting both parties time.

    2 - "Driving without care or attention" leaves too much room for subjective argumentation - "But I can drive just as well while on the cell as when I am not!" and in (1) above it can become really problematic.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noundi (1044080) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:19AM (#29895029)

    I too would much prefer a more broad rule.

    I find people talking on cellphones tend to be looking roughly straight ahead. Attention is diverted, but it's not as bad as a lot of other situations.

    All my close calls involved other devices. One woman was putting on lipstick. Another guy was changing a CD. Another pulled into a 3-way intersection while looking for sunglasses.

    I was able to swerve (slightly) into the wrong lane to avoid all three, but in busier locations that'd make the situation far worse. I happen to live in a small city in BC(<100k people), but in a large city of millions, with dozens of lanes of traffic, you just can't pull off the moves I did. It'd mean bad accidents, so I fully understand the desire to prevent it.

    Regarding cellphones... many young people can operate them without looking at the screen or phone, and can drop them in an instant if necessary to grab the wheel. I'm really worried about other stuff more. Anything that takes your eyes off the road...

    (Oh, and FYI - I'm responsible and pull over when making calls. You like to drink morning coffee huh, on the way to work? Well screw you!)

    You're right. But really we're repeating what has been stated as plain fucking truth long ago: people think they are much better drivers than they actually are. So this means one thing, the responsibility (even though possible in the case of a few more intelligent people) cannot be put on the driver. The driver shouldn't be allowed to evaluate if "this is a good time to speak in the phone" or "this is a good time to drink my coffee" or "this is a good time to change the CD". It should simply be forbidden because the driver makes the common mistake of thinking he's safe because of his alleged awesome driving skills. Leaving the rest of us at danger, not only drivers but also pedestrians/cyclists and even property.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:20AM (#29895035)

    Do none of these places have an offense of "driving without due care or attention" which would suffice,

    Yeah, but that involves the police gathering evidence and making a case that a driver was not in control of their vehicle. These new offences are mainly "fixed penalty" jobs that bypass all that tedious stuff about "due process" and "a fair hearing", and are absolutely brilliant for soft-targetting people sitting in traffic jams (much easier than catching that idiot in a BMW as he zooms past).

    On the bright side, maybe eventually the police will be given powers to simply arrest anybody driving a white van or a large German car.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:22AM (#29895049) Homepage Journal

    You're not wrong, but just a little off target. People, being idiots, have picked up on all these electronic devices, and moved them into their cars. People, being idiots, have killed other people, as a result of these moronic decisions. To be more accurate, people have CHOSEN to distract themselves while driving with electronic devices. These decisions have been met with a public outcry - "There ought to be a law!" Citizens around the world are demanding that drivers pay attention to their driving, or don't drive.

    The idiots have argued that their electronic devices are no more distracting than the dozens of activities that non-idiots engage in while driving. Many idiots say that reaching down to adjust the stereo volume WITHOUT taking their eyes off the road, is just as distracting as texting. Because they are idiots, the argument makes sense to them. (Meanwhile, no one suggests that complicated sound systems simply do not belong in an automobile - all of my sons have stereos in their dashboards that I can't figure out without parking the car, and studying the damned things!)

    So, the whole thing is handed off to the politicians. Idiots vote for politicians. Some politicians are idiots. We get idiot laws.

    Welcome to the land of idiots, where laws are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator amongst the voters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:22AM (#29895051)

    I work with police radios, 911 centers, etc. like nobody-but-the-IRS's business and recently it has struck me as really odd that nobody makes "hands-free" devices for police radios. "Hands-free" devices make the rest of us safer drivers so why doesn't anybody marketed police radio equipment designed to work with them?

    Imagine if the officer never had to take her hands off the vehicle wheel in order to (a) tell the radio unit to change to frequency , (b) press the button mounted on the steering wheel to key the radio to transmit mode and (c) start talking to dispatch...

    Police, Fire/Ambulance, etc. DO NOT "need" to be able to use hand-held devices to perform their emergency services and the sooner we stop giving them exemptions from safety rules the sooner they'll step-up to safer ways of doing business.

  • by twoshortplanks (124523) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:32AM (#29895119) Homepage
    So now we have drivers waving their cell phone cameras around trying to take photos of other drivers talking on their cell phones?
  • Perhaps you can (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:36AM (#29895145)
    But can 99% of the human race? The answer is "probably not".

    Unfortunately laws have to be made for the majority not the minority. This is a pity. I personally would like to see a world in which nobody was allowed to drive who had an IQ below 145 and had been assessed as safe by a personality test which included tests for psychopathy, sociopathy and reckless behavior. It would keep the roads nice and empty for me...but it won't happen.

  • by TheKidWho (705796) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:40AM (#29895175)

    Except for the fact that accidents per mile driven have been decreasing and are at an all time low in the USA...

    But you keep calling other people idiots.

  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:47AM (#29895237) Journal

    So no, this law does not go too far, in fact it does not go far enough. It should mandate that anyone found driving while distracted be charged with reckless endangerment of human life.

    Anyone who claims they've never driven while distracted is a complete and utter moron. Mod it flamebait, I don't give a fuck but you sir are a fuckwit. It'd be more effective to ban babies from being in the car since an infant in a car seat who has just vomited and is about to choke to death is a far greater distraction than changing the fucking radio station.

    I'm almost surprised you haven't suggested that cars need to be banned period.

    The correct solution by the way is to teach people how to cope with distractions. AND TEST the driver for being able to cope with distractions. Life is full of them and pretending they don't exist is far more culpable than changing a radio station.

    Everyone has a right to travel. No one has the right to endanger others.

    First of all there is no "right to travel". Secondly the two are not compatible. There is a risk to yourself and others around you when you travel. It can be minimised NOT eliminated.

    Those that do endanger others need to be held accountable for their actions

    You mean like existing dangerous driving laws?

  • Less accidents, despite the increase in electronic devices...

    And this has nothing to do with the fact that cars these days have better safety features?

    Also a device like a GPS may actually decrease accidents, because it reduces stress... You no longer have to worry about getting lost, and try to read a map as you drive (you used to see this a lot - people with maps open on their steering wheel as they drove), you just relax and let the GPS guide you, no stress.

  • by bhmit1 (2270) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:48AM (#29895261) Homepage

    We are constantly fighting cell phones, texting (what about emailing), and other one offs without taking on the core issue, distracted driving. And as long as there are mothers on the road, with screaming children in the back seat, while they try to fix their makeup as they race to a play date, we'll never face this issue head on. No one wants to discuss how distracting a baby can be, least we suffer the wrath of the angry mother. So we're constantly doing one off bills that catch some people that are distracted and others that are completely safe.

  • Re:Man! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:51AM (#29895285)

    You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can't pick your friend's nose.

  • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @07:59AM (#29895329)
    Of course they do -- this is all just a show to garner votes. We see the same thing with gun control laws every time some nutjob goes into a public place. Politicians were screaming about instituting more gun control after Columbine, completely ignoring the myriad of other gun laws that these kids had unsurprisingly already ignored and circumvented.
  • by that IT girl (864406) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @08:13AM (#29895411) Journal
    If I had mod points, you'd get one--this is EXACTLY the kind of common sense that needs to be applied, not only to driving laws but to a lot of things.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @08:29AM (#29895535)

    Driving will continue to being dangerous until we take the human component out of driving. We could probably make it today, but the underlying infrastructure just isn't there yet and there is no push for it. Maybe in 50 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @08:29AM (#29895547)
    I think we'd be even safer if we had more four-on-one [wikipedia.org] confrontations with the police.
  • by drsquare (530038) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @08:32AM (#29895571)

    Problem is, the perp can then argue they were driving with due care and attention, even when changing the radio, touching up their makeup, and drinking a coffee simultaneously. New laws like this take away the ambiguity and make it simpler for everyone.

  • by webdog314 (960286) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @08:50AM (#29895695)
    You're right, but being a tad naive I think. It's a whole lot easier to enforce a "law" than an "opinion". If people would simply admit that they were in the wrong, or doing something stupid, and pay the fine, then all would be well. But we don't. Generally speaking, most people will try to fight a ticket if they think there is even the slightest chance that they could get out of it, even on a technicality. Those moronic details aren't there because of some obsessive compulsive lawmaker, those moronic details are there because we're assholes.
  • by fafaforza (248976) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @08:51AM (#29895715)

    It could just as easily mean better road design and better technology in cars as far as antilock brakes, stability control and tires, which can get someone out of a jam better than the clunkers of yore.

  • by aicrules (819392) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @08:53AM (#29895725)
    Fixed penalty only if you just pay it. Now, I'm talking strictly U.S. experience here, but you have the right to your day in court for ANY ticket. 99% of the people wave the right to a hearing to prove innocence and either just pay the ticket or pay a ticket lawyer to plea it down to a non-moving violation. Both of those options are very much due process. Even if you are absolutely guilty of breaking the law that the ticket claims you did, you DO have the chance to get out of it. The police DO have to gather evidence and present their case if you choose to fight the ticket.

    Now if your points were made based on some other traffic law/judicial system outside of the U.S. (which is fine because the story is about Canada), then I can't claim to know if the system is similar.
  • by StayFrosty (1521445) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @10:02AM (#29896649)
    And that's why ticket revenue should not go back (directly) to police departments. It would remove the incentive to focus on minor infractions that are profitable and hopefully shift the focus to fighting real crime.
  • by aminorex (141494) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @10:07AM (#29896711) Homepage Journal

    It is part of a new regime of law enforcement. The idea is that if everyone is in constant fear of being arrested, harrassed, fined, jailed, beaten up, or shaken down, then they will all behave very very carefully. It works too. Crime goes down, public safety goes up.

    Then some genocidal maniac assumes the reins of the police state, and millions die.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @10:11AM (#29896763)

    Um, no. You rear ended a truck because you gunned your gas without paying attention to what was in front of you. Pulling out the fritter at the red light wasn't the issue - not returning your attention to the road when the time came was.

  • by prograde (1425683) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @10:17AM (#29896877)
    The underlying infrastructure already exists, it's called Public Transit.
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @10:46AM (#29897305) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who fails to understand that his undivided attention belongs on his SURROUNDINGS, rather than his toys, is indeed an idiot. Anyone care to explain away those pilots who flew 150 miles past their destination, only to have to admit they were on their laptop computers? There have been studies on people's ability to multi-task. Everyone's assumptions have been blown away by the studies - google for it if you care to. Women multi-task better than men, that has always been true, and the studies bear that out. But, even the best multi-taskers aren't as good as they THINK they are. One of the little bits of data found in the studies, is that those people who THINK they are great at it, are actually worse at multi-tasking than many people who don't claim to be good.

    But, studies aside - common sense should tell people that ALL distractions should be laid aside while operating a motor vehicle. Only the most momentary distractions should be permitted, like reaching for your drink. Even that isn't tolerated very well where people are serious about their driving. There was an article some months back about Autobahn drivers. Some of those Germans asked why ANYONE would even WANT a cupholder in their car. Getting behind the wheel means driving, not relaxing, or entertaining yourself, or eating.

    In short, SHUT UP AND DRIVE!! Use the phone at home.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @02:04PM (#29900211)

    Where your eyes are pointing is much less important to safe driving than where your attention is. If you can't complete the whole grab, open, etc. with your water bottle without even remembering that you took a drink then you are still diverting some of your attention away from the task of driving and so were a less-safe driver during the time it took to complete that task.

    That's one of the key foundations behind why drivers holding a conversation via a "hands-free" device are more likely to get in to an accident than drivers holding a conversation with someone actually in the car with them -- when the other party to the conversation is in the car, they can self-initiate conversation pauses during more-dangerous driving situations to allow the driver to return more of his attention to actually driving instead of the conversation. Neither type of converation involves eyes leaving the road, but studies have clearly shown this safety difference.

  • by FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @05:24PM (#29902821)
    So true. I 3 my GPS so much for this. Can't tell you how many times I missed an unclear exit. With a GPS, no worries, I'll catch the next one and not be lost. With handwritten/printed directions I used to use, I'd be SCREWED. Peace of mind is great, however, one must still be diligent. Becoming too relaxed while driving often causes accidents. This is why most accidents occur near the home, as people are in familiar territory and let their guard down.

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