Why texting while shopping could be a good ideaWednesday, August 28, 2013 by: Carol Martin
Jake Cormier, Local2 General Manager was the fly in the ointment for today's demonstration of how difficult it is to text and drive.
"He went a little bit slower in a few spots but, overall, he did pretty good," said Sault Ste. Marie Police Chief Bob Davies.
Cormier explained to the Chief that he's had practice - not texting while driving, of course, that would be dangerous and illegal.
Cormier perfected his amazing one-handed texting routine while pushing shopping carts around busy stores.
Maitland Ford and Highland Ford worked with the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service and Young Drivers of Canada today to reinforce the importance of staying alert and focused while on the road.
While Cormier faired well on the closed course texting and driving, most others who tried it today didn't do so well.
There were more pylons crushed than nuts at Christmas.
But the message was clear, both on Cormier's iPhone and on the faces of bemused members of the media who tried and failed to negotiate the short track around the parking lot at Superior Heights.
"Texting and driving is a no win situation."
"This wasn't a very realistic situation, though," Davies cautioned. "You wouldn't be able to slow down and text while driving in traffic and there would be many more distractions."
Traffic Sergeant Ray Magnan of Sault Ste. Marie Police Service explained the dangers of texting and driving.
"Even if you only look at that phone for a split second anything could happen," he said. "Another driver stops abruptly in front of you or somebody walks out from the side and you have to take action and, if you're looking down at the phone you're not going to be able to do that."
He said drivers are 23 times more likely to get into a collision while they are texting than while they are focused on driving, especially with the newer, more complicated phones.
The fine for texting while driving is $155 but the consequences have been much more profound, he pointed out.
Texting while driving is fast becoming a greater risk to young people on the road than drinking and driving and, even with the Ontario law forbidding the use of hand-held electronic devices incidences remain high.
A recent Sault Ste. Marie Police Service blitz on driving while distracted netted 12 offenders in under two hours, Magnan said.
Police officers in plain clothes 'hung out' on the corner of Second Line and Great Northern Roads and looked in people's cars.
“We could have got more but all the officers and cars in the area were busy,” he said. “We would see people texting or talking on phones and call in their plates but there was just no one left to stop them."
Some people think it's okay to use a phone or other device while stopped at a stop light but that is not the case, Magnan said.
"The minute you put that phone in your hand you're committing an offense," he said. "Use your speaker phone or your Bluetooth device. Let your passenger operate the phone."
Magnan said it's a bit odd to see a passenger holding a cell phone to the driver's ear but it's legal and it's much more safe than the driver taking his or hands off the wheel to hold and operate a phone.
He said there are similar laws that apply to anything else that impairs a driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and the fine is the same.
That would include applying makeup, reading or eating dinner with a knife and fork while steering with your knees and not even paying the slightest attention to the road - all things he has seen.
Ford Canada sent out a call to its dealers to get involved in their communities and help cut down on distracted driving.
Darren Smyl, owner of Highland Ford stepped sent a timely inquiry to Sault Ste. Marie Police Service and today members of the media were driving Ford vehicles around the temporary course at Superior Heights, learning first-hand how difficult and dangerous it is to text and drive.
Smyl said that Ford offers a number of devices that would make hands-free operation of electronic devices super easy and safe and they are installed in many of its newer vehicles.
This same attention to customer safety also inspired Ford Canada to join with local police forces across the country to raise awareness about distracted driving.
Young Drivers of Canada ambassadors were also out giving members of the media a chance to try to walk the line wearing goggles that simulated impairment induced by a blood alcohol level of .08 - try being the operative word.