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No Hand-Held Devices In Ontario Cars

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the hands-where-i-can-see-'em dept.

Wireless Networking 584

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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WTF? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894617)

How does one demistify the windows?

Re:WTF? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894679)

There's nothing mysterious about my windows.

Re:WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894767)

How does one demistify the windows?

Well, personally, I press the button on the end of the indicator stalk without taking my hands off the wheel. The radio mutes and the computer beeps. I say "demist on" and Moira Stewart [wikipedia.org] says "demist off". I then rant about how the fuck can "on" sound like "off" and repeat twice, usually that works, sometimes I have to take my hand off the wheel and stab the button.

Man! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894619)

How am I going to pick my nose now?

Re:Man! (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | about 5 years ago | (#29894923)

Either you park your car first, or you ask someone to do it for you.

They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (5, Interesting)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | about 5 years ago | (#29894627)

People here have been ticketed for eating apples or sipping water, while stopped at traffic lights.

Eventually, somebody will realise that people with the first frigging clue about driving (and a self-preservation instinct) do these things WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO. It's the people without the first clue of driving who need the attention of the authorities, and these people are ingineous at finding ways of being dangerous while driving exactly 'by the book'. Cops should pull people who are obviously being a danger (all over the road, near misses etc etc), rather than based on a tickbox system (is speed >X? Is driver doing activity Y?) as seems to be increasingly the case in many areas.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894663)

It's easier and more profitable to ticket almost law abiding citizens than hard core criminals.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (3, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | about 5 years ago | (#29894769)

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.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (3, Interesting)

shabble (90296) | about 5 years ago | (#29894865)

On a related note...

Do none of these places have an offense of "driving without due care or attention" which would suffice, rather than continuously create bespoke laws to legislate against every new device that comes out that could cause drivers to, erm, drive without due care or attention?

(And, yes, the UK does have the first offense, but they still felt the need to create a special law for mobile phone usage.)

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (4, Insightful)

fredjh (1602699) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#29895049)

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.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (5, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29894967)

We do in Ontario too. I think it might be that the charge for reckless driving is too steep so people don't get dinged for mere irresponsible driving.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (4, Insightful)

AndGodSed (968378) | about 5 years ago | (#29894987)

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:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 5 years ago | (#29895047)

taking a whole 5 seconds to explain why they are ticketing them, vs 3 seconds of explanation. OH THE TRAGEDY! where ever will i get those 2 seconds back?! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS WILL DO TO MY PORTFOLIO!?? my stock options? YOU SICK MONSTER! /rant

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | about 5 years ago | (#29895181)

Too much coffee this morning eh?

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (1)

shabble (90296) | about 5 years ago | (#29895073)

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.

And by the power of "Slippery Slope," that could be argued (and is, hence the ridiculous state of affairs I allude to;) to apply to absolutely anything that could cause anyone to drive without "due care or attention," like drinking, smoking, talking to passengers...

Why have 100's of individual laws to cover every eventuality, when a carefully worded single law to cover them all would suffice? (Yes, I realise there's a problem with laws in other areas that are too general - I don't believe this to be the case with this one)

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.

Take it to a judge then. The roadside is not the place for these sorts of arguments, in much the same way it isn't the place to argue whether you were driving 35 in a 30 zone or not.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (4, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29894895)

What about changing gear, you have to take your hand off the wheel to do that. Unless you're in an automatic.

Re:They've taken a leaf out of the UK's book (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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]

RTFS (5, Informative)

Hammer (14284) | about 5 years ago | (#29894633)

The law applies to handheld electronic devices. So unless your coffee mug is electronic or your climate control is handheld you are probably fine with coffee and a nice temp in your car

Re:RTFS (5, Insightful)

mcdonald.or (985710) | about 5 years ago | (#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?

Re:RTFS (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29894727)

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?

The law contains exceptions for EVERYONE to use a cell phone to call 911. So whether it's you calling the police, or the police calling the police, it's the same rules.

FTFA:

Hands-free Bluetooth devices are O.K., and you'll be allowed to use any phone in the event of an emergency to call 911

I don't see any real problem here ... the REAL problem I see is that you get bus drivers, etc., still yacking on their cell phones despite the laws in place.

Re:RTFS (3, Informative)

KillerBob (217953) | about 5 years ago | (#29894931)

The law contains exceptions for EVERYONE to use a cell phone to call 911. So whether it's you calling the police, or the police calling the police, it's the same rules.

The law also contains a blanket exemption for *all* emergency vehicles. Fire/Ambulance as well as Police.

As for the why, it's because those emergency vehicles need to be able to use the radio to stay in touch with dispatch and be able to actually perform their emergency services. There's an exemption for professional uses as well... so that truck drivers and bus drivers can use their radios, too, but I don't think it applies to would-be "professionals" with a mobile office using the cell phone.

Irregardless, TFS is completely wrong and FUD. The law applies to hand-held devices. Cell phones, Nintendos, portable DVDs, GPS devices, etc.. It does not apply to drinking coffee, changing the radio station, or even people who like to drive with one arm hanging out the window.

Re:RTFS (1)

Viridae (1472035) | about 5 years ago | (#29894993)

or even people who like to drive with one arm hanging out the window.

I like to wave my arm around and pretend I'm soaring through the air like an empty beer can.

why no hands-free police radios? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:RTFS (2, Interesting)

silanea (1241518) | about 5 years ago | (#29894881)

[...] What is it that makes a copper less likely to be distracted by a hand held device than you or me?

Nothing. But the copper has a good reason to use a hand-held device, namely the fulfillment of their official duty to serve and protect the public, as opposed to Joe Dipshit's rather flimsy reason to text away while speeding down the highway to let Aunt Irma know he will arrive two nanoseconds later than expected. That is why, at least in most countries, police officers are also allowed to carry guns, battons, tasers and thelikes in public while civilian use of such items may be restricted.

Re:RTFS (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29895027)

As others have mentioned they have good reason. I guess you could say cops can't either except for work but that sounds pretty impossible to enforce. They can also drive really fast and on the shoulder but that hasn't doomed us all.

Beyond that cooper's ARE better drivers. Much better in fact. They are required to take special driving classes and renew them every so often. Though Bell employees go through the same thing. If only we had a test to make sure people aren't stupid enough to text message while driving.

Correct. The summary should be tagged "troll" (4, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 5 years ago | (#29894721)

The summary is totally misleading. I have yet to see a car with handheld climate control, and any decent modern car has built in radio and media player. Ontario has not banned built-in or dashboard-attached GPS.

On the other hand there is a lot of evidence that using handheld devices while driving is dangerous, and in our rather busier UK traffic anybody drinking coffee while driving is a risk to everybody else.

However the summary and some of the responses show part of a trend. "Libertarianism" translating as "I should be allowed to do whatever I want, but stop those other idiots". Once you reach the age of 40 it becomes apparent that young drivers are crap and greatly overestimate their skills and their road attentiveness. As a colleague of mind once remarked "when I think how I used to drive when i was younger and put my family at risk, my blood runs cold". I expect lots of posts here slagging off Ontario, but they are right - and remember kids, you can't post a retraction to Slashdot from the cemetary.

Re:Correct. The summary should be tagged "troll" (2, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | about 5 years ago | (#29894821)

I don't know about you, but I can: grab, open, drink from, close, and replace my water bottle (with a screw on top!) with a single hand (either hand, actually) without taking my eyes from the road. I can also operate all my radio and AC/heater controls without looking at them either.

It's not people who drink or use devices in the car that cause problems. The problem is people taking their eyes off the road for more than an instant. These same people would be the ones who turn their head to look at the accident on the road, or watch the pretty birdies.

In short, they will find ways to maim themselves and others, regardless of what we try to do (short of removing them from the road)

Re:Correct. The summary should be tagged "troll" (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | about 5 years ago | (#29895059)

Ah, but to do as you claim you must visual the processes: grab, open, drink, close, and replace. Operating the mind's eye necessarily reduces your vision because your visual cortex is being diverted to the task. It is a distraction and is not unlike momentarily taking your eyes off the road. Performing your daily aquatic fine motor skill challenge may warm your heart with smugness, but it also undeniably takes your attention away from the road, which is the true problem.

Perhaps you can (1, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:RTFS (1)

sqldr (838964) | about 5 years ago | (#29894773)

"or even drink your morning coffee".. he had me until he said that. wtf.. driving and drinking coffee? Please get off the road, and come back when you can pay attention to the 2 tonne vehicle you're supposed to be in control of.

Re:RTFS (1)

fredjh (1602699) | about 5 years ago | (#29894983)

Is drinking water OK? I do that all the time. There's essentially no difference. Maybe if you're using an open mug, then it'd be pretty stupid, but most people have cups with closed tops or the special mugs they make just for drivers.

Re:RTFS (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | about 5 years ago | (#29894777)

And actually, the way the law is worded, my iPhone would be exempt. It's docked into a charger/fm transmitter station.

Re:RTFS (0, Troll)

KillerBob (217953) | about 5 years ago | (#29894971)

And actually, the way the law is worded, my iPhone would be exempt. It's docked into a charger/fm transmitter station.

It would be exempt. As long as you were not using it to text or write an e-mail. If you're using it as a hands-free cell phone, then you're fine. If you're using it as a media player, you're fine, as long as you aren't taking your attention from the road to browse through your collection and choose a CD. But in spite of that exemption, there are some things that are still illegal.

Re:RTFS (1)

camperslo (704715) | about 5 years ago | (#29894957)

The law applies to handheld electronic devices. So unless your coffee mug is electronic or your climate control is handheld you are probably fine with coffee and a nice temp in your car

Marketing opportunities to save Michigan:

Wind-up (battery-free) vibrators
Microphones with VOX (voice-activated switch) to replace PTT (push to talk) CB microphones

Opportunities for bored developers:

Drive-by Rick-rolling exploits for the iPhone, iPod touch, and Zune

Re:RTFS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894995)

"First they came for the HTC Hero, and I did not speak out—because I do not own a Hero;
Then they came for the Nokia N95, and I did not speak out—because I do not own an N95;
Then they came for the G2 Android Phone, and I did not speak out—because I do not own an Android;
Then they came for my iPhone—and there was no one left to tweet out for me."

-- Steve Jobs (1955 - )

Steering Wheel Controls (2, Informative)

McHenry Boatride (1661199) | about 5 years ago | (#29894637)

My car has simple controls on the steering wheel to control the tuning and volume of the radio/CD player. I would have thought it possible to similarly mount simple A/C contols. Trying to retune the radio, or even just adjust the volume, can be an uneccessary distraction if you have to look away from the road at the controls.

And In Related News: (4, Funny)

AtomicSnarl (549626) | about 5 years ago | (#29894647)

A Canadian truck driver has been fined for smoking in his own truck. [reuters.com] His truck is a "workplace" you see, and you're not allowed to smoke at work.

Beware! Definitions have consequences!

Re:And In Related News: (0, Troll)

scrote-ma-hote (547370) | about 5 years ago | (#29894725)

So it's OK for him to expose second hand smoke and all the toxins that go with it to anyone else who has to drive his truck? Or the mechanic who has to fix his truck? Those toxins don't just fly out the window you know. It *is* a workplace. Other people are required to interact with his workplace as part of their jobs. The intention of the law is to protect other people in their workplaces from the damaging effects of tobacco smoke. Fining people for smoking in their trucks helps to achieve this.

Re:And In Related News: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894807)

Hey, we're still breathing the same air the dinosaurs were billions of years ago. Smokers shouldn't be allowed to smoke because of the fact that whatever species is here billions of years from now will have to breathe the 734th hand smoke!

Re:And In Related News: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894811)

He was on the highway. He wasn't just pulling up to the mechanic, and I'm almost certain he wasn't riding with anybody. I lived in southwestern Ontario for the first 19 years of my life. Professional truckers are people you don't frequently see with people riding shotgun.

I'm cool with smoking laws in most cases (cue and enqueue a litany of libertarian obections). But this guy really was by himself; the law isn't protecting anybody. It's an edge case not handled by the law -- and it probably shouldn't need to be handled; half the problem with the legal system is the incredibly complicated set of rules and exceptions required to cover these edge cases. The officer decided to wield the letter of the law as a weapon. When he does that, he decreases respect for the law and the Law.

Re:And In Related News: (2, Insightful)

borizz (1023175) | about 5 years ago | (#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:And In Related News: (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | about 5 years ago | (#29895107)

Yes, and also if he drops his ciggy on his crotch while driving the monstrosity he is in control of he will be a danger on the road. You try and put out a fire on your gronks while trying to maintain control of a vehicle.

Smoking and driving can be dangerous too.

Re:And In Related News: (1)

srussia (884021) | about 5 years ago | (#29894963)

Heck, I used to ROLL cigarettes while driving (steering with my knee), with no adverse consequences.

Re:And In Related News: (1)

auLucifer (1371577) | about 5 years ago | (#29895095)

you're probably sarcastic but I'll bite. No consequences except for those cars you veered in front of or pushed out of the way because you didn't have complete control. Driving with your knee is stupid to say the least. If you got a blow out you'd be gone so don't think of it as fine, think of yourself as lucky

Really? (5, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894739)

Fine - lose your legs or your life but what if you crash into me and cause me to lose mine? Huh?

Re:Really? (1)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#29894751)

Fine - lose your legs or your life but what if you crash into me and cause me to lose mine? Huh?

What? Did you even read my post?

Re:Really? (2, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | about 5 years ago | (#29894833)

Apparently not.

But I pose a question for you.

If you spilt hot coffee all over your groin while driving, could you get off the road safely to attend to it?

Perhaps something a bit cooler would be safer, regardless of your skills.

Re:Really? (1)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#29894975)

Apparently not.

But I pose a question for you.

If you spilt hot coffee all over your groin while driving, could you get off the road safely to attend to it?

Perhaps something a bit cooler would be safer, regardless of your skills.

Sure but there's also the risk of driving with one hand. Basically I don't need to look far to find horrible drivers. Some of my family members and friends for example. If you ask me I wouldn't want neither of these people to drive with anything else than 100% focus and both hands on the wheel. It comes down to statistics though, if a significant number of people get in accidents because they were driving with one hand, then driving with one hand becomes significantly dangerous.

Re:Really? (1)

ibjhb (173533) | about 5 years ago | (#29895023)

ooo, I know, I know!

Cops should carry thermometers around and if your drink is less than 30 degrees, you're allowed to drink it.

That would solve that problem!

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | about 5 years ago | (#29894875)

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!)

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Really? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29895083)

Stats show otherwise. It isn't your eye focus that is the problem. The conversation itself is what kills people. They just become blind and inattentive. Often they could be looking directly at an incoming vehicle and not have it register.

Re:Really? (1, Flamebait)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#29895173)

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.

The way I see it it's a slippery slope. If you aren't capable of driving with the minor distraction of holding a drink in your hand, you're probably not safe to drive. We could stop all accidents right now if we banned motorised transportation. Then your precious legs would be safe, but it's not such a small price to pay.

People need to get the fuck over the fact that life isn't going to be accident free. The only way to never have accidents is to never do anything.

I'm a west coast Canadian (1, Interesting)

MrMista_B (891430) | about 5 years ago | (#29894659)

Yeah, 'blame Canada' - to put it in context, most Canadians west of Ontario, view Ontario in the same way most Americans view France - that is, hopelessly and utterly broken. So stuff like this isn't a surprise - I don't mean to troll, but those easterners are about as blissfully statist as you can get and still be called a democracy.

Oh, and for those Ontarians in the audience? Yeah, 'Central Canada' would be Saskatchewan. Anything east of that is 'Eastern'. :)

Re:I'm a west coast Canadian (2, Interesting)

Engeekneer (1564917) | about 5 years ago | (#29894871)

Yeah, 'blame Canada' - to put it in context, most Canadians west of Ontario, view Ontario in the same way most Americans view France - that is, hopelessly and utterly broken.

Funny, in France it's the other way around. And to lend some credence to their point, the did just convicted Scientology of fraud. (And no, I'm not French)

Re:I'm a west coast Canadian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894889)

I'm in Nova Scotia, Ontario is west from here, when I go there to work I go "out west for work". Many people from Ontario have a hard time dealing with them being "out west".

Re:I'm a west coast Canadian (4, Informative)

KillerBob (217953) | about 5 years ago | (#29895003)

Yeah, 'blame Canada' - to put it in context, most Canadians west of Ontario, view Ontario in the same way most Americans view France - that is, hopelessly and utterly broken. So stuff like this isn't a surprise - I don't mean to troll, but those easterners are about as blissfully statist as you can get and still be called a democracy.

You do realize that this particular law is in place in Ontario and Quebec because we were following suit from Alberta and BC?

Re:I'm a west coast Canadian (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29895167)

He's just angry because all the Indian and Chinese immigrants are invading BC.

Re:I'm a west coast Canadian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29895005)

Ummm... 'Central Canada' is in Manitoba, not Saskatchewan.

Re:I'm a west coast Canadian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29895043)

Fuck you imbecile. I don't say make these kind of generalizations about your province.

Re:I'm a west coast Canadian (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29895139)

If we go by our capital or population Saskatchewan is Western. But I'm just being snide.

As an Ontarian I'd like to say Thank You. Dear lord I much prefer relating to Europe over the US any day. Are you saying we care more about health care than you? (I know that tommy douglas was from saskatchewan). Do we have... lower crime rates? Less religious fanatics? Less military? (yes I view this as a good thing) Really, I don't know what you were pointing to.

Some truth about this.. (1)

ImNotAtWork (1375933) | about 5 years ago | (#29894707)

From the original article that the blog post refers too. http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/local/article/10327--distracted-driving-law-passes-at-queen-s-park [citytv.com]

Hands-free Bluetooth devices are O.K., and you'll be allowed to use any phone in the event of an emergency to call 911. Your GPS unit will still be able to direct you, as long as its properly secured to your dashboard.

"Communication devices such as CBs that are hard-wired into the vehicle are not covered by the ban," the official states.

It does not go too far (2, Insightful)

cavehobbit (652751) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:It does not go too far (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | about 5 years ago | (#29894753)

I take it somebody has never had a bad day and found him or herself on the wrong side of the law.

Re:It does not go too far (1)

Xiph (723935) | about 5 years ago | (#29894827)

I take it that gp has had plenty of bad days and been on the wrong side of the law often enough.
Gp was just never caught doing so and thus believes that he or she never did anything "bad".

But i guess as someone trying to learn about usability analysis and the like, there's a lot to learn when it comes to drivers (of cars, bikes,trains, boats, airplanes, etc.)

Re:It does not go too far (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#29895161)

Obvious strawman. I should really keep and memorize a list of fallacies so I can just list all applicable whenever anyone says anything online.

Re:It does not go too far (5, Interesting)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | about 5 years ago | (#29894787)

Yeah, lets ban everything that could ever create a risk in any situation. Theoretically, I could be distracted by reading your post on /. and not see an anyry badger lunging at me from next to my desk. Therefore, your posting on /. needs to be banned.

In fact, lets also ban the posession of slippery substances (if dropped on the floor they could cause somebody to slip and crack their skull open) etc etc etc

'Safe driving' is about awareness, being aware of the traffic around you and the road conditions, etc. It is NOT about a 'list of things you should never do, because in some situations they might be dangerous'.

I myself have nearly been hit by people distracted by road signs, FFS. By your logic road signs should be banned.

As for

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.

, yeah, nice way to never ever find out the true cause of any accident because everyone involved is desperately trying to cover their asses against people like you. Go and read 'Road Accidents - Prevent or Punish' by J J Leeming, and then read it again.

Re:It does not go too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894857)

Still NOT far enough. The two drivers involved in any accident should be immediately jailed until fault is assigned, and the at-fault driver hanged from the neck until declared dead!

Re:It does not go too far (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:It does not go too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894933)

what about people driving too close? D-I-S-TANCE is the key, yet it's not considered a really bad offence to tailgate. Even the police are guilty of doing this (i've seen them many times). In fact I would go as far to say that this is the largest cause of accidents followed by speed, then general state of mind (not concentrating on the job of driving - by any means - phone, radio ect). Tailgating also causes traffic jams.

It would be so easy to force all cars and lorries to have radar and use this to control the speed of the vehicle (as honda and others have been developing).

If people kept their distance then they would have time to change station, or take a bite of a sandwich. I'm not copnvinced with cigarettes or hot coffee though as this could cause a instinctive reaction thus causing the driver to suddenly brake or accelerate.

When I passed my test, the first thing I did was drive on a motorway and light up a cigarette. Only to hear a loud horn and realise I was drifting into the other lane. I understand this could have been fatal and this has helped me realise the seriousness of doing ANYTHING whilst driving. Since then I avoid smoking and driving. Although I don't agree, maybe smoking and changing radio stations should be tested too (if so many people do this anyway)?

Re:It does not go too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29895113)

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 totally agree. Many fatalities are preventable. If everyone would inspect their cars daily, and properly maintain their cars, it would reduce dangerous accidents due to automotive failures on the road. And since we all know that speed is involved in accidents, anyone caught speeding, even just a single mile per hour, should be put in jail. The only difference between a speeder and a fatality caused by a speed-related accident is luck. This is no different than handing out loaded revolvers to children in a preschool.

Another primary cause of accidents is lack of attention while travelling. Many accidents can be avoided by alert, and focused drivers. Every time you get on the road, you should have to demonstrate that you are sober, have slept at least 8 hours in the last day, and have no other distractions in your life. How can you possibly be a safe traveleler, if, say, your wife is in labor, or a relative has just been rushed to the emergency room? This sort of thing should be illegal because it is wreckless and endagers other people's lives. It would be the same thing as walking down the street, closing your eyes, and randomly discharging a firearm. Only luck is the difference.

This should apply to all types of travellers, be they motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians. Pedestrians can also cause accidents also, and it is unfair to put other people and their property at risk. To do so would be exactly the same thing as running down the street and pushing people into traffic.

</extreme sarcasm>

Dude, get over yourself and get off your high horse. Life comes with risks. The most you can hope for is that people try and act responsibly most of the time. No amount of grandstanding or legal intervention will prevent everyone from doing something marginally risky some of the time.

What A Bunch Of Hosers, Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894729)

I'm going back in my hoose to write a letter to those hosers in my local parilment aboot this!

Re:What A Bunch Of Hosers, Eh? (1)

andre_pl (1607319) | about 5 years ago | (#29895125)

contrary to popular belief, Canadians dont use the word hoser, ever.... like seriously, no canadian has ever said it. also the accent is more like "A-boat" then "A-boot"'

Automatic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894747)

Aren't the vast majority of cars in the US automatic anyway (apposed the the vast majority of cars in Europe being manual)? Surely that means that Americans have an extra free hand, for GPSs, Blackberries and Big Macs.

Where is the problem ?!? (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | about 5 years ago | (#29894803)

My car is controlled by a joystick, you insensitive clod!

Terrible Summary (5, Informative)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 5 years ago | (#29894815)

Good gawd, that summary is terrible. To say it's not even vaguely accurate is an understatement. The list of what is and what is not allowed is available here [gov.on.ca] .

Copy/pasting for those not interested in downloading the pdf:

What would not be allowed while driving, unless the vehicle is pulled off the roadway or lawfully parked
* Hand-held wireless communications devices such as cell phones, smartphones
* Hand-held electronic entertainment devices such as iPods, or other portable MP3 players, or portable games
* Texting and emailing
* Viewing display screens on devices not required for driving such as a laptop or DVD player

What would be allowed while driving
* Hands-free wireless communications devices with an earpiece or Bluetooth device
* 911 calls
* Pressing the button of a hand-held device to activate hands-free mode for incoming or outbound calls
* GPS units mounted on dashboards
* Collision avoidance systems
* Use by emergency services personnel such as police, fire and ambulance
* Logistical transportation tracking devices used for commercial vehicles

Re:Terrible Summary (0, Troll)

KillerBob (217953) | about 5 years ago | (#29895033)

I do wish I had mod points...

But the parent is absolutely right, and whoever submitted TFS is either trolling or an idiot. I'm not surprised that the editors haven't read TFA or the law, but the submitter? That's a new low....

Re:Terrible Summary (3, Informative)

supernova_hq (1014429) | about 5 years ago | (#29895077)

Leave it to kdawson to take a simple, long deserved law, have a stroke and start spewing FUD faster than Microsoft at an Ubuntu release party.

Re:Terrible Summary (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | about 5 years ago | (#29895153)

Coffee is my collision avoidance system. It keeps me sane enought to avoid driving my car into opposing lanes of traffic.

People with stick shifters are hosed. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 5 years ago | (#29894843)

Unless they grow a third arm for shifting, anyway.

Re:People with stick shifters are hosed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894885)

Unless they grow a third arm for shifting, anyway.

I always wondered what they would say about people that drive manual when they say it is the law to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. Well I guess we are stuck in first gear then all the time.

Re:People with stick shifters are hosed. (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | about 5 years ago | (#29895085)

Well I guess we are stuck in first gear then all the time.

Pffft, a REAL man can start in 3rd gear and rev that sucker up to freeway speeds.

Re:People with stick shifters are hosed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894917)

Unless they grow a third arm for shifting, anyway.

get those hand on the steering wheel! no gear changing no indicating no changes to rear view mirror do all this and you will be a safe alert driver!

WTF? (1, Insightful)

netpixie (155816) | about 5 years ago | (#29894883)

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.

Here in Maine, the new law is more sensible (1)

CFD339 (795926) | about 5 years ago | (#29894925)

Here in Maine, it is against the law to do anything which distracts you from driving. Essentially, this would include texting or talking on the phone if those things are distracting you. I would imagine that this will allow the cop to ticket you if you cause an accident and thus properly assign liability for the accident. It's like getting a ticket for "failure to control you vehicle to avoid a collision" (a typical wording for any time you rear-end the car in front of you).

Bad Analogies, Bitter people. (1)

Ada_Rules (260218) | about 5 years ago | (#29894949)

The submission claims this is "throwing the baby out with the bathwater"...huh? No. This law is like throwing away the poop you washed off the baby along with the bathwater. The original analogy is trying to say that to get rid of something of no value, you also threw out something that had value. These other items you listed as untended consequences can cause the same sorts of distraction based accidents as cell phones but it is just not in vogue to hate them.

Distracted driving is distracted driving. People love to hate other people's cell phones but think nothing of twiddling with the radio or turning to face their passenger as they have a conversation. In general I think these laws on top of laws are a bad idea because there are generally already distracted driver laws. Trying to single out specific items in the law is just silly and is an attempt to cater to those people that want an ever increasing number of laws and power for the state. So great, we outlawed hand held electronic devices. I guess I will have to bring out a mini-Victrola with a crank. Sure it will be hand held and a terrible distraction for the driver but it is not electronic so it must be safe.

'Distracted' driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29895127)

You seem to have the idea that if you keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road ahead, you will automatically be a better driver. People who do only that tend to fall asleep on long trips. Some things that look like distractions actually serve the purpose of keeping you awake.

My former employer used to have a 'no radios in vehicles' rule. They gave up on that when it was pointed out that vehicles with radios had the same or even a bit fewer accidents than vehicles without radios.

One way to stay awake and alert for many truckers (me included) is to crack sunflower seeds. Don't know why it works but it does. Depriving me (and lots of other guys) of the right to eat sunflower seeds would definitely make the roads less safe.

I agree with what seems to be the consensus. Rules usually have unintended consequences. The fewer rules the better (to a point).

Idiots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29894953)

... this is entirely unenforcable. I would stick mainly to cell phone's / texting only, since it really saps your attention. Drinking your coffee or having a bite to eat while you are stopped at a stop light or stuck in traffic is hardly irresponsible behaviour, while attempting to do so while you are driving is. You can't legislate against stupidity, it's unenforcable.

While I feel sorry for deaths and accidents caused by human stupidity you can't legislate against it, I would be more for looking into the viability of equipping cars with attention monitoring devices to see whether such a thing is viable or not, kind of like a blackbox to keep a record of the persons idiocy that can be used as evidence in court.

Perhaps we should ban drive through for restaurants while we're at it?

Re:Idiots... (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | about 5 years ago | (#29895105)

You can't legislate against stupidity, it's unenforcable.

Well, you *could*, but unfortunately all your voting populace would be in prison...

Great! Now apply this law to the rest of the world (1)

daid303 (843777) | about 5 years ago | (#29895053)

And add a 'feature' to it:

If you send a photo containing someone driving while using phone/electronic device to the police you will get 10% of the fine. Currently the catch rate for phoning while driving is so low that many people are not bothered by it.

The catch rate for these kinds of things is just to low, and then many people don't bother with it. The one time they get caught they just pay up. Which puts people like me (using bike to get to work) at risk.

Re:Great! Now apply this law to the rest of the wo (2, Insightful)

twoshortplanks (124523) | about 5 years ago | (#29895119)

So now we have drivers waving their cell phone cameras around trying to take photos of other drivers talking on their cell phones?

This has been the law in Texas for decades. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 5 years ago | (#29895063)

They don't enforce it much, but there's no reason to make a cellphone / texting law because they only thing you're technically allowed to take your hands off the wheel for while driving is shifting gears. It's in the Texas drivers handbook that I had drivers ed from in 94 and it's still the law now.

I don't see where another place passing this law is news.

What about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29895071)

Does this mean that you cannot take your hand off of the wheel to use the turn signals? What about police officers that need to resond to their radios while driving, or even access their on-board computers?

Re:What about? (1)

twoshortplanks (124523) | about 5 years ago | (#29895133)

Does this mean that you cannot take your hand off of the wheel to use the turn signals?

No.

What about police officers that need to resond to their radios while driving, or even access their on-board computers?

The law specifically does not apply to police officers. Details here [ontla.on.ca]

Not really newsworthy... (1)

pdboddy (620164) | about 5 years ago | (#29895109)

There are more than fifty jurisdictions now that have similar bans in place. Frankly, if whatever it is you're doing while driving makes it so you don't notice the cop until they're pulling you over, you deserve the damn ticket.
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