In B.C., it is against the law to text, email, talk or otherwise hold an electronic device in the hand while operating a motor vehicle, including while the vehicle is stopped at a red light. We all know this, so why do so many of us still do it? (Drivesmart)

In B.C., it is against the law to text, email, talk or otherwise hold an electronic device in the hand while operating a motor vehicle, including while the vehicle is stopped at a red light. We all know this, so why do so many of us still do it? (Drivesmart)

Column

SIMPSON: What do pets, bras, cereal bowls and novels have in common?

They can cost you a lot of money and even kill someone if not handled safely and responsibly

Gracie loves my Jeep.

She loves any vehicle, really – especially ones that deliver her black-and-tan self to the Clayton off-leash park or the Cloverdale McDonald’s for a cup of vanilla soft serve. Gracie also loves the front seat, and she’s stubborn, as most one-year-old mini-dachshunds would be.

And I love to spoil my Gracie.

All of this is a terrible combination, especially for someone who is about to espouse to you the dangers of distracted driving.

And I will have to admit, there has been a time or two I have driven the few blocks from doggie daycare (which I now call school since that she is eight in people years) with my little princess on my lap, her snout either hanging out the door or smearing up my newly cleaned window.

Bad idea – I know, I know. Gracie is small but it doesn’t matter. It’s not safe for anyone – me, her or other people on the road. And, to think, before I became a dog person, I used to silently cuss out drivers for doing the same thing.

As drivers, we display some curious habits, don’t we? Some are gross. Some are potentially distracting. Many are downright dangerous.

SEE ALSO: What exactly counts as distracted driving in B.C.?

Today, it’s become alarmingly easy for our attention to sway while behind the wheel. We have smart phones, pets, $10 lattes, GPS screens and more. And when I say more, boy do I mean more.

Just ask Const. Alex Berube, an RCMP media relations officer with Greater Victoria’s West Shore detachment.

“We see, more often than you would think, people eating full-on meals, lunch or breakfast, with cutlery and everything,” Berube told Black Press Media’s Dawn Gibson. “It’s scary because you will see them steering with their knee, holding a cereal bowl in one hand and a spoon in the other.”

I’ve seen a woman do this too, a few months ago on 64th Avenue.

But wait. It gets worse.

On March 15, Gibson reported, West Shore RCMP tweeted that they stopped a vehicle that was reportedly being driven erratically, and the driver explained it was because she was removing her bra.

Berube told Black Press he’s often seen men shaving their faces, women doing their makeup, and people reading books while driving.

“It’s not just a brochure or a magazine either, it’s been full-on novels.”

While we may find these stories somewhat humourous, it’s important to remember how dangerous these behaviours are.

Distracted driving is one of the largest causes of collisions, injuries, and deaths on Canada’s roads. The Canadian Automobile Association says people who drive distracted are eight times more likely to be in a crash or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. And stats suggest distracted driving is responsible for 22 per cent of fatal car accidents involving people between 16 and 21, or one in five youth killed in crashes every year.

SEE ALSO: Listening to podcast off phone app while driving not distracted driving, B.C. judge rules

Of course, the most common reason for people taking their eyes off the road is due to cellphones. Canadians say that texting while driving is one of the biggest threats to their personal safety on the road, CAA reported in 2020. And the National Safety Council said in 2019, mobile phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes every year.

A woman in Langley was caught using her phone behind the wheel, and learned the hard way that it can be expensive, especially if you ignore a cop when they tell you to pull over.

As Dan Ferguson from the Langley Advance-Times reported, a driver was seen using her cell phone and was directed by officers to pull over in the Willowbrook area on Feb. 23. She kept going instead.

Later that Tuesday, officers paid the 33-year-old a visit at her home. She was issued three tickets for a total of $615. She will also be assessed nine insurance points that, upon conviction, will cost an additional $922, bringing the combined penalties to more than $1,500. It’s nearly triple the amount the woman would have paid if she had pulled over.

SEE ALSO: Wearing earbud connected to dead cell phone still distracted driving, judge confirms

Back to our pets – what exactly are the rules about having them in the car?

Police say that having pets, objects and passengers obstruct a driver’s view out the front or side windows is considered a distraction. Having a large dog in the passenger seat blocking the window could lead to a ticket for driving while the view is obstructed – an infraction that brings a $109 fine and three penalty points. And a driver trying to control a pet running around in the vehicle may receive a $368 ticket for driving without due care and attention.

That would buy a whole lot of kibble and chew toys.

Sorry Gracie, from now on, your’re buckled up in the back seat.

Don’t worry, Dad will still get you your ice cream.

Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. Email him at beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

distracted drivingDrivingSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)
COLUMN: Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis reflects on the passing Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Surrey Vaisakhi parade crowd in Newton, pre-pandemic. (Photo: Crystal Scuor)
Surrey Mounties urge Vaisakhi, Kissan celebrants to heed public health orders

Report violations to the City of Surrey Bylaw call centre at 604-591-4370 or the Surrey RCMP non-emergency line at 604-599-0502

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A almost hitting school bus

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Road rager fails breathalyzer on busy B.C. highway in vehicle he shouldn’t be driving

Saanich police say man was operating vehicle without required ignition lock

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

Most Read