From Where I Sit – What Are You Doing Behind the Wheel?

Since Alberta introduced its Distracted Driving legislation two months ago, I’ve been paying more attention to who is coming down the road toward me. Because I really can’t differentiate among most makes and models of vehicles, I rarely, even around home, look at oncoming drivers and expect to recognize them?let alone see what they’re doing.

In an attempt at full disclosure, I admit to touching up my lip gloss (sans mirror), checking addresses, or talking on the phone prior to the new law. You’ll get no holier-than-thou guff from this kid. But really, people: eating soup with a spoon, reading books, maps, or newspapers splayed across the steering wheel, texting, and applying mascara? This is craziness.

I especially hate the (usually) young men driving humongous four-by-four pickup trucks while bent over like question marks, one elbow on the armrest and a phone glued to their heads. In Alberta, which is truck heaven, those vehicles are lethal and usually driven far too aggressively even when the driver is not distracted.

I suspect there is lower compliance with the law in rural Alberta because the police are few and far between and the odds of someone catching you on a country road or quiet secondary highway are remote. The same thing happened years ago with seat belt laws. And we had the grim death stats to prove it. You just can’t tame that Wild West mentality that says, ?I’ll make my own damn decisions about how I live and what I do.? Even if it kills one in the process.

On a recent 150-kilometre trip to Killam for combine parts I passed three sheriff cars within 10 miles of each other and wondered what they were doing. Still haven’t a clue. Two days later, on another trip to Killam (don’t ask!), I was stopped outside of Viking by RCMP officers who were doing an educational campaign on the new law. I got a fact sheet and a rubber thumb ring so I would remember to ?let my thumbs do the driving, not the talking.?

Enforcement of an unenforceable law without a significant change in the mindset of drivers seems like just one more thing dumped on the local Mounties, who are already covering unimaginably large detachment areas with fewer than necessary resources. It really is a miracle that most of us come home safely each day.

Today’s question is ?What are you doing behind the wheel?? from where I sit.

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