Have you ever, while driving along in your automobile, closed your eyes for a distance of 100 metres or so?
Probably not. If you had, you might not be here to tell about it. Yet drivers who text on cellphones or fool around with other electronic devices while behind the wheel do the equivalent of that.
Pictou County RCMP Const. Shane McNeil offered that comparison in discussing the dangers of distracted driving. The RCMP and other local police services are trying to get that message across, and they also warn they will be cracking down on this illegal activity – which unfortunately remains a habit among some.
A campaign is underway in local high schools that includes an advisory group making presentations on such topics to younger students.
Also, New Glasgow police have recently made it clear they’ll be stepping up the pace trying to spot drivers engaging in such behaviour and handing out fines – which start off around $176.
Drivers who take chances might weigh the relative odds – and the pain – of getting nailed for a couple of hundred bucks. For those, it’s essential to get across the other risks – perhaps losing their own life, or killing the passengers in their car or someone in another vehicle.
RCMP Sgt. Steve Halliday says provincial statistics reveal distracted driving as the number-one cause of crashes on the province’s highways.
We’ll recall it took a few years to drill in the idea among some that using seatbelts is vital. Now, you’ll see few who don’t buckle up – and often chastisement for those who don’t.
Similarly with drinking and driving, it’s not just the fine and loss of licence that’s a deterrent. Because of the danger, we’ve seen a high degree of social shame attached to such behaviour.
That kind of awareness and attitude is what needs to be nurtured among the population for texting and similar activities that take a driver’s attention from the road, even for a matter of seconds. That’s all it takes. And it can be a killer.