Monday, August 03, 2009

Calling Kash Heed! Hands off My Hands-Free Car Cell Phone!

Calling Kash Heed! Hands off My Cell Phone!

Now BC's nanny state wants to ban cell phones in cars, even my hands-free model.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours and
The Tyee column

Tuesday August 4, 2009

"Cell phones are a distraction. But so is coffee, screaming children, adults quarrelling, and reading the newspaper. Are you going to ban them as well?"

- Former Canada Safety Council President Emile Thérien

Has the B.C. Liberal government gone completely mad?

Has the summer heat melted their marbles?

Because Premier Gordon Campbell and crew seem to have lost their senses.

First it was the outrageously unfair Harmonized Sales Tax suddenly announced last month without consultation and after the B.C. Liberals expressly rejected the idea of putting a new 7 per cent tax on most goods and services currently exempt from the Provincial Sales Tax.

And a hearty thanks to 24 hours readers, Tyee readers and others who have already joined my Facebook protest group NO BC HST -- more than 18,000 people signed up in less than six days! More on the HST in future columns.

Then on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend the government announced it was cancelling the program that has loaned nearly $700 million to leaky condo owners, helping them pay billions in repairs and saving them from losing their homes. Housing Minister Rich Coleman gave anyone who still needed a loan a generous two hours to apply or forget it.

Bigger worries for cops

But there's something else that's got me steamed up. Solicitor General Kash Heed is considering banning cell phone use in our cars.

B.C.'s Top Cop is worried using a cell phone in your vehicle is too dangerous and should be outlawed -- and he's given us until only August 7 to tell him what we think.

Here's my response. Get your hands off my hands-free car cell phone!

In case you haven't noticed, Kash, there's a bloody gang war going on, sex trade workers are being murdered, drunk drivers and street racers are killing people, and your priority is to take away my cell phone?

Wake up! We don't need more laws telling us what to do -- we have more than enough already!

If I crash my car because I was distracted by my cell phone -- and I always use my hands-free car kit -- then charge me with existing laws -- driving with undue care and attention or dangerous driving.

But no, Kash may make it a crime to use your cell phone when driving. Like that law will be obeyed. Seen any bicyclists without helmets lately? Ha.

The true risks

So here's an idea, Kash. While you're at it, why not ban all these in our cars: drivers arguing with their partners; screaming kids; drinking hot coffee; dogs; transporting Little League teams; playing AC/DC's Highway To Hell at maximum volume; smoking a cigar -- ban anything that could possibly distract a driver!

Kash, take a look at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research study that analysed five years of highway accident data.

It discovered that "the most frequently reported sources of distraction for drivers involved in tow-away accidents were outside persons, objects or events (29.4 per cent), followed by adjusting the radio, CD or cassette (11.4 per cent), and then by other occupants in the vehicle (10.9 per cent). Using a cell phone ranked far down their list with a frequency of 1.5 per cent."

The truth is, Kash, that life is unsafe -- and what's worse, it always results in death!

And if living a long life is your big concern, you should also ban being fat, drinking anything but light beer, not exercising daily, eating red meat, watching too much TV and putting cream and sugar in your coffee! No more double-doubles, British Columbia!

But until then, keep your hands off my hand-free cell phone!

Common sense, please

I agree that drivers should use either a hands-free car kit or a Bluetooth headset if they want to drive and talk on a cell phone.

I agree that texting while driving is a dangerous activity.

I agree that restrictions on new drivers should include using cell phones while on the road.

And there are definitely times when any use of a cell phone while driving is just too distracting.

But can we really just legislate compulsory common sense? I think not.

Fortunately, until Friday you can tell Kash what to do right here.



Anonymous said...

We don't often disagree Bill, but you are wrong on this one. There is no need for cell phone use hwile driving and there is a damned good use to ban it entirely.

kam Lee said...

KASH IS DEFLECTING FOR THE MONSTER GORDO. It seems to me all the minions are doing their best to make us all look the other way. Remember this, Kash is still under investigation. Sounds like all of gordo's gang, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Anonymous poster. You're simply wrong to be stirring the pot on this issue Mr. Tieleman.
It's too bad you've chosen to pluck out one study that "seemingly" supports the idea that hands free units are less distracting than hand held ones.
The truth is that cell phone use while driving impairs the drivers ability. Full stop.
Hundreds - if not thousands - of studies confirm this.

Besides - a helmetless cyclist is so far removed from the dangers they pose to other people on the road (as compared to a distracted driver) you should be embarrassed to have even used it as an example.

You're *WRONG* Bill - just flat out WRONG.

Unknown said...

I am pedestrian most of the time. Of course, I am with the government decision banning cellular phone use when driving. It is a jungle out there when you try to go across streets, checking the driver talking and not paying attention to pedestrians. In this one, you are wrong!

Anonymous said...

I am with you Bill. When I use my cell phone I pull to the side of the road. But I will use a cell phone to report accidents, gang bangers, nefarious activities & so on. The Premier is not a well man. He is displaying symptoms of a psychopath and is now out of control and dangerous to the people of this province. Is there any psychiatrist in this province brave enough to lock him up?

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with you Bill but not this time. cell phone use while driving has been shown to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. You tend to have different conversations on the phone than with a passenger. You could be breaking up with your girlfriend or arguing with your broker. And trying to punch in a number while driving is extremely dangerous. Stick to the HST issue. You're diluting your credibility with this one !

G West said...

Sorry Bill,
I've been delayed, waylaid and almost laid out on a slab by drivers paying more attention to their cell phone conversations (hands free included) too many times in the past ten years to be terribly sympathetic to your plight.

Pull over or shut it off.

Just like photo radar, anything that marked the roads less crazy/dangerous is a good idea - not a bad one.

Still, I doubt this bunch of hypocrites will go ahead with anything meaningful except for graduated licensees so I don't think you have much to worry about...but, like some others here, I'm more or less convinced that your arguments aren't convincing...

Gordo’s business buddies will no doubt be lobbying him intensively and I doubt much will change soon…remember those big discounts for BCLiberals who signed up for certain cell phone accounts?

DPL said...

Yes Bill, there are laws in place right now,"due care and attention" but not being enforced. Mind you after the accident they suddenly become important.What's so difficult about pulling over to aswer? Other people drive through stops signs for sure. One of the crazy things we get to see is someone trying to get into a parallel park situation while chatting on their phone. Are they really that important it can't wait for maybe 30 seconds. Do we have a cell phone? Yes. Do we ever use it while driving No. I flew for years and talking on the radio while manouvering just wasn't done. We had headsets, and kmee switches as well.

We had radios in our trucks but if called, the usual reaction was don't answer till parked.

But in this case I figure the somewhat discedited ex copper is trying to shift folks interests from the many issues his boss doesn't want to talk about. I've never considered myself important enough to even keep our ten dollar a month phone on standby. Our present credit is somewhere over 500 bucks on the darn thing. The top political cop should be pushing for driver education, distraction when driving, and getting the girls and boys in uniform to enforce the laws in place right now, Driving in heavy traffic is no place to have divided attention.

North Van's Grumps said...

Was it BCTV that was showing how dangerous teenagers/adults are while text messaging while WALKING?

Yeah. It seems that as pedestrians, and text messaging, they don't seen to give a hoot to what's happening around them, like, in a marked cross walk, but the light is red, or while crossing the street without a crosswalk... J-walking.... not paying attention to the bus/motorist that's about to mow them down.

Where is the Solicitor-General going to find the police-officer-power to nail everyone?

Wasn't it the BC Liberals, who in their 2001 New Era platform said that they were going abolish the NDP photo radar van cameras because it was a cash cow?

If the BC Liberals had mentioned in the their latest election platform that they were going to go back to the good old days of the NDP, fining motorists while driving, would they have been re-elected?

Otis Krayola said...

Nobody loathes the Lieberals more than I. And I'm happy to listen to the most far-out conspiracy theories spun about the provincial government to explain their actions. But, sometimes, even they can do right, if only by accident.

I'm with the clear majority both here and over at the Tyee. I think you're a menace when you talk on your cell when behind the wheel. Please stop.

Joe said...

Before I start making any comment, I have one question to ask. Once the ban is in place, how are those police officers supposed to catch those drivers who violated the ban? How are they supposed to prove that they've been talking and driving?

Banning things/activities is the simplest way for the government to show its POWER of CONTROL.

I am surprised that so many people are blinded with the fancy word "safety". Besides talking on the cell phone, there are countless activities going on in the car other than actual "driving", for example, putting on makeup, tuning the radio, looking for playlist on iPod, setting direction on the GPS, reading magazines/newspaper, arguing with other passanger(s), comforting the crying baby, checking out the hottie walking down the street, (do you really want me to keep counting?). If banning cell phone use will make the road safer, there are lots of things have to be banned. All the audio/vedio systems should be removed from all vehicles, including GPS and DVD players. Don't tell me the DVD player is for the passengers. I've seen a couple putting the DVD player in the middle of the dashboard and watching movie while the man was driving.

Banning things will make our street safer? I believe the street drugs are illegal in Canada, but how come there are still so many addicts on the street and even shoot up in the public? Drinking and driving is illegal, even in our neibour, USA, but how come Gordo was cought doing it? Oh, what about firearm control? How come there are so many shootings happened in the past 7 months?

I am so sick and tired of the government using "safety" such fancy word to divert people's attention to the truth. If we keep allowing the government doing this to us, soon we will loss all the rights we should have.

One last thing for gordo. For the safety concern, you should ban eating and dringing because people can choke from eating and drinking, and choking will cause death.

G West said...

Movable Joe
Safety...Seems to me that limiting the use of cell phones in moving automobiles is a positive move no matter how many other examples of the possibilities of an encroaching 'nanny state' there are.

Last time I was nearly struck by a Bimmer driving idiot talking to his stockbroker about a deal on the make I was outweighed by about 4000 pounds...This isn't a question of safety for pedestrians - it's a question of survival.

If the son of a bitch had hit me, and he's not the first one who came close, do you think his 'safety' would have been threatened?

If you choke on your cheese blintz at dinner time tonight it's YOU that's going to the hospital, not me!

So please, spare me 'your' concerns for the dangers of promoting generic safety, they're not much more than self-serving red herrings - just like the phony bullshit from drivers who like to speed and don't think they deserve to get a ticket on photo radar because they think they're the reincarnation of Gilles Villeneuve or Jim Clark - might I remind you both of those guys ended up dead too.

Angela said...

I like the idea of banning the cell phone use. Of course it's completely unrealistic to seriously enforce. At best it will cost more to do so than money brought in. I think the point needs to be made though that there is a difference between careless cell phone use and being responsible with your toys.

I think Bill is right, if he drives responsibly which I'm sure he does then there is no reason for police to be issuing a ticket while he is on his hands free cell. But it's hard to make a law that exempts a group of responsible people, the law must apply to all. Kash should stick to having the police enforce reckless driving, an all encompassing law that basically says if you can't drive responsibly, GET OFF THE ROAD.

Unknown said...

what about truck drivers and their cb's taxi drivers,delivery drivers, emergency personel,police ,fire ambulance,etc.
most of them utilize a hand set device to comunnicate.make it manditory to use hand free devices for each and every one of them.

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest wastes in government is the expenditure of time and money on the creation of new laws when an old law would do the trick nicely.

Driving without due care and attention is on the books, and it should be enforced.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with you Bill. My car was hit by a teenager girl at parking lot. My car was parked and she was nattering away. In spite of my seeing the whole incident occur she took without even getting out to look at the damage. She didn’t even get off her bloody cell phone.

I called the police and gave them the license plate number and they wouldn’t do a thing. Gave me an accident claim number and told me to call ICBC. The law needs to be changed people do not, I repeat do not need to be talking and driving.

Anonymous said...

Another name for 'hands free' is 'brain elsewhere'. Your point about compulsory legislation on this issue is on target but your efforts to tie this in with the term hands free is trying to hard and seems a little gratuitous.

Joe said...

It's really not about using cell phone when driving. It's all about driving skill and multi tasking skill. If you are not a well experienced and skilled driver, or if you are a single tasking person, anything can distract you.

I've been using cell phone when I am driving for more than 15 years, and it never caused me accident. I eat when I am driving sometimes and it never caused me accident. I've done many things while I am driving, the only thing that caused me a car accident was falling asleep.

It's not that I disgree with the cell phone ban, but it has to be reasonable. (well, I think I am asking too much from this nonsense, nonresonable, and lie-loving government) If you disagree with allowing hands-free devices, you should stop talking to the driver, or stop talking to your passengers when you are driving. Better yet, turn off your car audio.

Oh, by the way, the same law should apply to everyone, including emergency service personnel. They should not use any communication devices while driving. They have to pull over if they need to use radio, especially the laptop computer they have in the car.