EDITORIAL: Cell phones a major distraction

Leave the cell phones alone while driving. We’ll all benefit from it.

It is a troubling addiction, causing grief on a regular basis now for enforcement officers.

Drugs? No. Alcohol? Nope.

Cell phones.

Members of the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment’s North Okanagan Traffic Services and Integrated Road Safety Unit, combined with the Vernon Citizens Patrol, conducted a distracted driving test for North Okanagan media this week.

A course was established behind the Vernon fire hall, and participants had to negotiate through the obstacles – which included stop, yield and playground signs, crosswalks cutouts with people on them – while trying to send a text message on their phone.

Everybody who took the course failed, including two police officers, both of whom missed or bumped into signs.

So if you’re distracted while walking, imagine texting while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Your eyes aren’t on the road, they’re on your phone.

Police say that fatalities as a result of a person texting on their phone while driving have now surpassed the number of fatals involving impaired driving.

The fine for texting while driving is $167 and three demerit points. Though one wonders if a fine that hits harder in the pocketbook would act as more of a deterrent?

Cell phones are an everyday part of life, and officers agree they are like an addiction.

But they should not be part of everyday life when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle.

There’s no reason, no excuse, no story important enough that a driver can’t pull over to answer a phone or send a text instead of doing so while driving.

The answer is really simple: leave the phones alone while driving. We’ll all benefit from it.