Wednesday, November 9, 2011

DROP IT AND DRIVE - GET OFF THE CELLPHONE

In British Columbia using a handheld cellphone and other handheld devices while driving is ILLEGAL


Cellphones are a modern convenience that most of us now have.  I remember back in the 80's when they came out, they were the size of a small brick and just as heavy. Up until about a year ago I resisted getting a cellphone, but that all changed when Scooterpie Junior went into high school, we needed to be connectable for safety reasons.  I have never used my cellphone in the car unless I had my bluetooth earpiece. Even with the earpiece I found it distracting enough to make me pull over and carry on the conversation while stopped.   Two years ago my cd/player radio toasted in the van and I just haven't bothered to fix it, I kind of like the peace and quiet in the car.   

One morning about a year ago I was taking Scooterpie Jr  to school and we were almost wiped off the map by someone who was holding a cellphone and 'trying' to drive at the same time.  This person made a very illegal lane change, they passed us on the righthand side on a city street where there was no lane and almost hit us.  That was it, I told Scooterpie Junior to call 911 on her cellphone and then we reported the driver to the police, I only got a partial license tag, so it wasn't very helpful.  I was so shook up and angry that someone could be so careless and take our lives for granted.  

Fast forward to today and I now ride a scooter or motorcycle for my commute to/from work.  This last 10 months has been an education on the road.  I have learned never to take my safety for granted and I have adopted a drive like they don't see me attitude.  I am constantly scanning for errant drivers who are not paying attention and can pretty much say that every day I encounter situations on the road where someone is doing something stupid and dangerous.  Because of this I wear a bright colored helmet - diva pink and have a hi viz traffic vest over top of my textile riding jacket and people still don't see me.  Several times on my commute I have encountered countless drivers who are talking on their cellphones and worse yet texting and I have had to take evasive measures. YOU ARE A DANGER to everyone around you and yourself if you are using your cellphone, GPS unit or snarfing down your breakfast bagel on the way to work while driving.

Riding a motorcycle makes me vulnerable to the 3000 or so pounds of rolling 4-wheeled death that shares the road with me.  I also know that if there is an incident I am not going to be the one who walks away with just a little ding on the door and it has the potential to be life threatening and/or a life changing event.  I can do everything right and take all of the motorcycle safety courses in the world and it won't matter a rip if someone is an inattentive distracted driver.  So you maybe wondering why I still ride?  I ride because I like the sense of independence, freedom and love of adventure it gives me, its hard to put into words and only another  motorcyclist or scooterist will know what I am talking about and why I ride.  That being said, we all have a responsibility to be attentive good drivers, car or motorcycle.  

In 2009, BC Solicitor General Kash Heed proposed a new law for BC - a cellphone ban while driving.  The cellphone ban became law in January 2010.  The law includes a prohibition against using handheld devices; cellphones, ipods, GPS units and any form of text messaging or emailing while driving.  Ok, I seriously have to ask who in their right mind could even think that texting in any way shape or form is a safe driving habit?  Where has common sense gone? The cellphone law is meant to address driver distractions.  Distracted driving is anything that takes your eyes from the road or hands from the wheel. Our vehicles have become much more than modes of transportation, they seem almost to have become mini mobile offices for some and to others their cars have almost all the creature comforts of home.  When we are in our cars we have several distractions;  radios, kids in the backseat, being in a rush to get somewhere, eating food and drinking a cup of the demon bean, thinking about the countless things we have to do and how stressed we are.  Your attention is already divided in the car between keeping control of the chaos inside and paying attention to the mayhem that is going on outside, add an electronic device or two and it sounds like the perfect recipe for a disaster in the making.   

We are almost two years into the cell phone ban and you would never know it.   People seem to be willing to risk the penalty of being caught on the phone or texting and the threat is gone.  Drivers have become complacent and are starting to use their cellphones while driving.  When I am stopped at lights I see people taking furtive glances at their lap area and you can bet they are texting. Do you really think you are being clever because you are sneaking peeks at your phone - Nooooo you aren't clever, police can spot you a mile away.  I've seen people sitting at a red light and they are talking on their phones.  Ok people here is the dealio - even stopped at a red light it is STILL ILLEGAL to hold your phone and have a little chat with someone or text.  Hello! how about paying attention to your surroundings?  You should be scanning the area looking for another idiot like yourself that is driving the 3000 pounds of rolling 4-wheeled death coming up behind you and are about to rear-end you because he finds his conversation more important and interesting than paying attention to the road.  

If you are near me and talking on your cell phone or texting I WILL give you a wicked Moto Diva stare and probably memorize your license plate number, find the nearest & safest place to  stop & pull over and call the police and report you.

GET OFF YOUR CELLPHONE AND STOP TEXTING. PLEASE SEE THE PICTURE BELOW - THESE ARE THE PEOPLE I NEED TO COME HOME TO.


5 comments:

bobskoot said...

Dar:

years ago I decided to let everyone know that if they wanted to reach me to just send a "text message" or an email. emails come directly to my smartphone. I cannot answer the phone whilst riding. The helmet blocks out the sounds of the speaker.

I remember one time I received a call, pulled over, shut off my bike, removed my helmet and saw the caller ID phone number. I called back, NO Answer even though it was only minutes . . . so I called and left a voicemail. I continued my ride which took me outside of cell phone coverage. When I reached the next town I noticed another "missed" call. I called back and No answer, had to leave another voicemail. It went like this for hours. that evening I finally connected and I said why didn't you just send an email or text message, then I could have replied "instantly". I seldom answer my phone, even in the car though I do have bluetooth I don't use it much. I don't even answer my phone at home if I don't recoqnize the phone number. I could be standing right next to the phone at I will let it ring. I don't understand why people don't leave messages. also when we are having a meal, we just let it ring . . . the phone is for my convenience, not for others to bother me

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

ps: you never replied to our emails

Trobairitz said...

Great post Dar. Well said and is a good reminder to always be on the lookout.

Using hand held devises while driving are illegal here in Oregon too but you'd never know it. Every time we are out in the car or on the bikes we always without fail see someone on their phone. People don't seem to realize when they have it on speaker but are holding it up to their mouths - that is not hands free.

It is good to adopt the - "ride like they can't see you" attitude.

I've also adopted the "ride like they are trying to kill me" attitude. Sure they saw me, they just didn't care. I find they look right through us too.

Sigh.

Troubadour said...

Dar, I appreciate your rant and understand your concern. We have had the same law here in Oregon for the past two years and the law only made things worse. Instead of drivers texting while holding the cell phone on the steering wheel and somewhat glancing at the road, they are now holding the phone down in their laps hiding it from police which causes them to drop their head and eyes from the road altogether.
I've given up yelling, cursing and gesturing at texting drivers. I found it to be ineffective, distracting to me, it pissed the driver off, pissed me off and caused me to be just as much of a danger to myself as they were. You simply can't fix stupid.
I do however cherish little victories, like when a manager in my office asks me if I know how much a fine is for talking on a cell phone while driving, then before I can answer proceeds to tell me it is $147. I laughed in his face, then he told me it was a motorcycle cop and I laughed even harder. Ahhhh, poetic justice. He then said his company truck has bluetooth capabilities, but he never bothered to set it up. *facepalm*
I found the same thing with drivers not turning their headlights on in fog, rain and the dark. I let the police pull them over and issue them a ticket; plus it gives them an opportunity to do a secondary search for alcohol, drugs etc. There must be a reason they forgot their lights, right?
Anyway, welcome to the sport, ride safe, don't let them get to you and enjoy the ride.


(check your email)

David Masse said...

Well said Dar.

Have you switched out your stock horns for something like. Stebel Nautilus? You can generally get them here at Canadian Tire for about $70. They are made by Stebel but Canadian Tire sells them as "blaster" something or other. I can't tell you how great it is to have a horn that attracts as much attention as an 18 wheeler's does. I wouldn't ride any bike without a really loud horn.

Dar said...

Bob - I feel the same about my phone, I am on one all day & the last thing I feel like doing is talking on it when I am home. I am sorry about the email - I noticed it last night, but was too tired to type - lol - I do that all day too. When is the motorcycle show? Will have to talk to Motorcycle Man.

Trobairitz - I do the drive like they want to kill me thing too. It makes me crazy that people don't get how dangerous it really is. When I was driving the cage to work & home I never used the cell, I even found bluetooth distracting, I ended up pulling over & talking by the side of the road.

Troubadour - It seems I am all about safety these days. They other day on the way to the Riders For Safety event a dude pulled up behind me & he was chatting on his cell, he almost rear ended me. I turned around & gave him the hairy eyeball, held my hand up to my helmet like it was a phone and shook my head Noooo, he made some wild gestures and I repeated my gestures 2 more times. Then I pointed at his license plate and made like I was writing it down, did the phone gesture & pointed at him. He figured out pretty quick that meant I am calling the cops. He threw his phone down and then pulled over. Point made.

David - I am asking Santa Baby for that. Hopefully he will deliver under the tree, also wanting some really swish winter gloves. I want a horn that scares the heck out of the driver and says watch out.