No need to relax the law
The conviction of a woman for listening to an iPod while driving has created a stir in the blogging community our story yesterday was inundated with comments, most of which said it was ridiculous to enforce such a law.
According our report Catherine Farnsworth, 30, agreed that she was listening to an iPod while driving along Front Street. However she insisted she wasn’t holding it in her hand and at no point while riding did she use her hands to operate the device.
While her case appears to be at the bottom end of the scale, it does serve to highlight an issue on our roads that this law was designed to address.
How many times have you seen a someone with a cell phone tucked under their helmet while they talk and ride? How many times have you seen young riders oblivious to any noise (like a warning horn) because earphones are plugged in under their helmet?
There is no question that things like headphones and cell phones are a distraction to drivers. Take these sobering statistics:
n Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit. (University of Utah)
n The number one source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device. (Virginia Tech/NHTSA)
n Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
n Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Carnegie Mellon)
Our report yesterday said Miss Farnsworth argued that listening to an iPod while riding was not an offence under the law, saying that the Ministry of Transport said last January that using a hands-free kit for a cell phone is permitted as long as the motorist does not hold them continuously in their hand.
It may be that the law in this case may need tightening, but it does not need relaxing more attention needs to be paid to road use, not less.
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