Everyone knows that texting on a cellphone while driving is considered a big no-no in Canada, right? I ask the question, because our country has a ban on both texting and chatting on a cellphone while behind the wheel, but judging from the number of folks I see every day clutching a phone firmly to the side of their heads while using one hand to distractedly maneuver through traffic, I donít think everyone got the memo.
I admit Iíve been guilty of answering my phone while driving, but texting? Iím just not that coordinated a person. I donít even like to glance down at my radio to tune into a better station while on the road, let alone try to get my misshapen thumbs to mash the correct letters on a tiny virtual keyboard.
I donít even know why anyone had to go to the trouble of making up a law about texting, anyway. I really just thought it would be basic common sense that you shouldnít try to ó yíknow ó type while in control of a ton of hurtling metal and plastic.
I mean, we donít have a law banning the juggling of chainsaws and flaming marmosets while driving because pretty much everyone understands that would lead to tons more accidents on the road, plus a lot of pissed-off and singed marmosets. So why canít people get the ďdonít text and driveĒ message? Some studies are even calling it the ďnew drunk driving,Ē as weíre seeing more and more accidents and deaths on highways than ever as a result of these actions.
Maybe itís the instant communication or the portability that smartphones offer that has made this a modern problem, because I donít remember ever hearing about someone being pulled over in the past while writing a letter on a typewriter.
But it isnít just drivers who need to be aware of the fines and demerit points ó not to mention vehicular mayhem ó they could be in for if they decide to let their thumbs do the talking while behind the wheel.
Three New Jersey judges last week sided with arguments in a civil lawsuit that you could be liable for a crash if you knowingly text someone who is driving. The case concerned a couple who were badly injured in a 2009 crash with an 18-year-old whose truck hit them riding on their motorcycle. The couple also sued his 17-year-old girlfriend, who had texted him shortly before the crash.
The judges didnít find her liable in this case, because she didnít appear to know her boyfriend was driving at the time; however, they did accept the general argument that a texter may bear some legal responsibility if they are aware the other party is driving. While there are still no laws on the books in the U.S. or Canada regarding this, it may come up in the courts more often now, as every government seems to be toughening its texting-and-driving laws.
So, be warned about who you text and when, and keep in mind itís probably just best to keep your hands off cellphones ó or chainsaws and flaming marmosets, as the case may be ó and firmly on the wheel from now on.