Punishments for those caught texting and driving need to be harsher

By Megan Gibson – Camosun College (CUP)

A lot of drivers have this narcissistic notion that they are the best motorists in the world. It’s as if they believe Jeff Gordon taught them to drive, when in reality most drivers behave as if they’ve ingested Charlie Sheen’s tiger blood.

Worse yet, some of these same people text behind the wheel when the vehicle’s actually in motion. It really ought to be illegal to text and drive. Oh, wait: it is. Well, it’s illegal everywhere in Canada except Nunavut, anyway. There’s even a punishment of sorts: in B.C., it’s a measly fine of $167 and a three-point penalty.

According to the B.C. government, from February 2010 to September 2011, 47,000 drivers were caught with a mobile device in one hand and a steering wheel in the other. Of those caught, 1,300 were texting. Clearly, many drivers still don’t understand the severe impact that texting while driving can have.

In 2010, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 104 collision fatalities in B.C., according to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

More recently, in Quebec, a young woman drove into the back of a truck while texting with her fiance. She’s dead now.

Imagine how awful her fiance feels. Imagine if she had taken more lives than just her own. He’d feel even worse. Sadly, many people who hear this story won’t heed its warning and will continue to text and drive. But people would be less likely to ignore the laws if the fines were heftier. Better still, why not prevent texting while driving from happening in the first place? Car manufacturers could work to create a mobile deactivator that turns off cell phones as soon as the ignition is started.

And that’s what society has come to: drivers need to be treated like children so they will behave and obey the rules. Misbehave and toys start being taken away. Continue to misbehave and privileges will be revoked. Misbehave again, well, there’s a nice 10 by 10 cell where a lengthy ‘time out’ could be served.