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The most foolish distracted driving stunt of all?

Published October 29, 2012
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While driving northbound on the Don Valley Parkway last Wednesday I noticed a maroon minivan driving erratically in the middle lane. This obviously was a vehicle to pay close attention to as it was presenting a greater safety hazard to me and others compared to the rest of the traffic.

I moved to the left lane to pass this minivan even though I considered to keep it in front of me. It is often safer to have a dangerous driver in front of you where you can keep a closer eye on them. However, this driver was also backing up traffic behind them and I made the move to pass when I thought it was safest to do so.

As I passed this vehicle, I glanced over and in horror saw the young woman driver firmly holding her cell phone to her left ear. And in her right hand was a burger wrapped in paper waiting for a chance to be shoved into her mouth.

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I couldn’t believe anyone could be that self-absorbed and careless as to try that dangerous driving stunt on the DVP in this day and age. For years now the media has been extolling the dangers of distracted driving to the point that there can’t be a human being left on this planet with a driver’s licence who isn’t aware of the risks.

Now, before I get a ton of comments bad-mouthing all minivan drivers, or drivers of maroon coloured cars, or female drivers, this is not about a group of drivers. It is about one careless individual. The reason I describe the person and vehicle is in the remote chance they may read this or have someone point it out to them. Maybe they just might learn from it. Slim chance, but I have to try.

In a recent article I wrote for Wheels.ca, about a certain BMW driver who was driving without seeing the big picture, it saddened me to see posted comments about BMW drivers as a group. Some readers thought I hated BMWs simply because I included the make of the vehicle in the story. I do not hate BMWs or their drivers. As a matter of fact, I lust for a new M3, which is one of my all -time favourite cars. My brother owns two of them. Again, this was done in the long shot chance that the driver might read about himself and it made him think twice about his driving. It is always worth a try.

This story is about how we can all still encounter totally careless drivers in our everyday travels and we all need to be prepared to deal with them to be safe.

If I had my way, I would love to see special traffic-only constables roaming our highways and filming motorists. Two per vehicle, one officer driving while the other monitors and films motorists and truckers. They could nab hundreds of these careless motorists each and every day. Armed with the evidence on video, the perpetrators would have very little to fight about. It would all be there in HD glory. The traffic fines alone could easily pay for this special group of constables plus some.

For someone such as this young lady, the penalty should be a life-time ban on driving as she obviously has no regard for the safety of her fellow motorists and citizens. Her photo should be displayed on a “driving wall of shame” and the worst is yet to come – seizure of the cell phone and a life time ban on possessing any cell phones.

OK, maybe that is somewhat extreme.

But the point is we really do have to make distracted driving a motoring taboo along the lines of what we are trying to do with drinking and driving. Society needs to understand that distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic fatalities and costs all of us dearly. When you see someone like this young lady who totally does not get it, I wonder where we are going wrong.

How do we stop it? How do we get all motorists to accept the profound responsibility of driving and to focus on their driving rather than their dining and dialogue?

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