Friday, October 31, 2008

Banning driver distractions - Part II

In my previous post I favoured the banning cell phones and other driver distractions. Yesterday a National Post editorial came out against the new Ontario law. The Post thinks we should just be trusted to be responsible citizens. It would be nice if that were a realistic expectation - we could apply it to drinking and driving as well.

Today, Kelly McParland’s column in the Post, "Silencing the tools of stupidity" , is much more to my liking. The only quibble I might have with Mr. McParland's argument is that he doesn’t go quite far enough. He seems to suggest that "drinking coffee and eating jelly donuts or putting on lipstick while driving" shouldn’t or can’t also be banned. I don’t see why not. They all constitute "driving without due care and attention", they’re just as great a distraction and it’s no more difficult to enforce a ban than for cell phones.

If the Post editorial board wants to come out against laws that fly in the face of individual freedom and personal responsibility they ought to write an editorial that calls for the repeal of seatbelt and cycle helmet laws. These paternalistic laws only 'protect' people from themselves and they distract police from real safety issues. For example, in Victoria I regularly see cops harassing citizens by handing out seatbelt tickets. But I’ve NEVER, not once, seen them enforcing the law requiring drivers to stop at pedestrian crosswalks. Violations at crosswalks are frequent and result in many deaths and injuries each year. If that isn’t clear evidence of skewed priorities I don’t know what is.

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