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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Laws of Driving and other things [Rant]

For those of you that know me personally, will know I love to drive.. anywhere, anytime. In fact I probably prefer to drive at night. Most people don't because they "can't see where they are going" however for me, I feel the opposite since you can see the oncoming headlights, especially on winding roads. But without getting off track here, more than I typically do when I start out by writing about one certain topic and end up bringing up so many others. My topic here is about the safety of driving.  The newer vehicles these days have many security features  besides the obvious ABS brakes, but now with side mirror markers and notification lights and automated parking, rear view and dash cameras built in and of course built in bluetooth.  The problem I see is that most people simply don't use these features.  I know when I get in a rental car that has integrated bluetooth, I immediately set it up. Note: I also remove my settings before I return the rental car--as so many of these cars have numerous phones still installed. 

I'm currently sitting in a coffee shop while I write this and am looking out at the drive-thru where I count the last 5 cars drivers on the phone--with the phone in their hand. Two out of the 5 were also smoking so as they pulled up to the car in front of them, they actually had no hands on their steering wheel. I am pretty sure 4 out of the 5 cars had the ability to be hands free as the cars were not more than two or three years old.There are many websites that provide statistics on driving while distracted but what good are they if the laws do not reflect any possible solution to the problem!

In Canada, a lot of the driving laws such as 'hands free use of your phone' are regulated by provincial laws.  In the USA pretty much the same thing.. state by state.   The problem I see however, is these laws are not enforced THAT much.  Unless you are in a smaller town where the police seem to have nothing else to do.  I know in Texas there are no hands free laws and this is a real problem. I counted 8 out of 10 cars that I pulled up next to at a stop light were either talking on their phone, were reading/texting on their phone or were smoking. One of your hands is constantly busy and if you drive a stick shift (manual transmission), your one hand is already always busy shifting the gears.
I should note that in Texas they do have a law that prevents you from "using your cell phone within a school zone".. now how pathetic is that! Oh-we must be careful of our children!  But isn't that why there is a speed zone through a school? If you are going to place a law on a specific place on the road that you can't use your phone, doesn't this prove that there is a problem that people aren't paying attention to their driving skills everywhere they drive?  Yes,  I know this is not a technical thing to be doing and there are no laws anywhere about smoking but why aren't there?  In BC (not sure about other provinces),you can not smoke in the car when there are children in the car. To me this is just as stupid as that school zone no phone law in Texas.   As is the seat belt law.. Yes, of course you are going to wear a seatbelt because it has proven to save lives in accidents but making it a law seems pointless. If someone doesn't want to wear their seat belt and end up killing themselves as a result.. so be it.. but for the insurance companies to have a way to not have to pay for a claim because the person wasn't wearing their seatbelt--of course, why not.. that answers the question as to why there is a law.  If someone wants to kill their kids by smoking with the windows up while they drive--even though we know second hand smoke has been known to be as deadly as smoking--this isn't law everywhere.  I don't smoke but I grew up with two parents that did and had many 500 mile or longer road trip/vacations with them.  Just like technology that is constantly changing, the laws are always catching up to what should be instituted everywhere and some of those laws are ridiculous.

Wearing headphones while driving.. not allowed, or are they?  It used to be you could only have one earpiece in your ear, such as the case of the Bluetooth earbud, but it seems this is not enforced so long as you don't have your phone in your hand.  Again, what about those that smoke? It seems there is no problem having that pack of cigarettes in your hand which is the same size as a cell phone.  The law about having both ears covered by headphones is crazy.. since there are no laws preventing a deaf person from driving a car. Or what about that car with the 2000 watt stereo system blaring away (with the windows closed so they don't get in to trouble with the city noise bylaws of course).  An example here for me personally would be the fact that I have limited hearing from one ear so I would have my earbud in the other ear so that I could hear who I am speaking to. So if there were laws about having both ears covered, I would be safe--however the reason for that law would be to be sure the driver can hear oncoming sirens and other sounds around them while driving--wrong.. I wouldn't hear it!

Forget about the technology in your vehicle and the laws that prevent you from driving correctly... you first must use common sense and that simply isn't happening, in my opinion.  Maybe I'm just getting old and starting to sound like my Father, who I always looked up to but thought was crazy with some of the things he would say when he simply didn't understand the younger generation.  Ok I get it, I'm not a millennial and it would seem it is that generation that have taken the current technology for granted because they may have grown up with it, but they also are very careless about it.