Saturday, September 3, 2011

Distracted Driving, or, Our Government at Work for Us

Our new "Distracted Driving" law came into effect in Alberta yesterday. No phones. No texting. No eating. No putting on lipstick. No map reading, or any reading for that matter. Strict rules on drinking and even HOW you drink.

I threw my hands up in despair. And then I emailed my friend Greg, a lawyer in Ottawa:

Heading to Calgary and just found out I'm not allowed to eat, drink or talk on the phone while driving. How will I stay awake? If I hit and kill someone because I've fallen asleep, will you plead my cause? I'm SOOO tired ...

His answer was immediate and, as always, pithily amusing:

I'm your lawyer. I stand on guard for thee.

A couple of hours later came this message:

Did you get to your destination safely?

Your lawyer.

I responded grumpily:

Yes thank you counsellor. Now I have to shop for food, which I won't be able to eat on the way home. Can't you DO something about these laws? I mean, does Canada really care if the Rest of Canada is distracted and / or killing each other on the highways? Less PC fans ...

He shot back tartly but sweetly, a crab apple in the Halls of Justice:

Canada and I both care about you and your future. We would hate to find you plastered on the Calgary TV channel as a statistic.
Please dont eat and drive.
Please drive then eat.
Please drive slowly and eat well.

See? It's not so unreasonable, when you put it like that!

Greg is one of the smartest people I know. He's earned his Doctorate in Laws, has authored several tomes, spends his career advising others, and lives his life caring for others. I'm always incredulous that he condescends to befriend me; but I'm grateful for the serendipity of events that introduced us to each other.

(Although FYI, sir, Calgary is a town of more citizens than comprise Ottawa. We manage to have more than one TV channel these days ...)

I'm home again, safe and sound. And I didn't speed or talk on the phone while driving, not even once.

Tomorrow I'll figure out my brand new phone head set ...

And I sincerely hope I have breached no client-attorney privilege!


  1. Can we drink coffee and drive?

  2. no drinking at all, andy... but what about brushing teeth, plucking eyebrows, shaving, and other bodily grooming functions... seen it all! and head sets... i think they are banned too. it's about the brain. being distracted. k, better check that one out.
    mind on the road and two hands on the wheel at all times....

  3. Oh no, it turns out you CAN drink - water, coffee, pop - but it's HOW you drink that matters, apparently! The news reported yesterday that a cop pulled some hapless man over not because he was drinking coffee but for the way he was consuming it. I don't even want to think about it, really. I think the phone-ear-growth things are also permitted, although you're not allowed to be dialling (and you're not allowed to punch into your GPS either). What about if you sneeze? That's pretty distracting, no?! At least, it is to me if you're sneezing in the car next to me ... All in all, I must confess that I think it's a good law.

  4. I just posted a note about adding "no children in the car while driving in Alberta":) They're definitely more of a distraction than the other things on the list. Surprisingly there was only about 20 minutes out of the 8 hours we were traveling that they fussed. Pretty good, eh? Thanks again for everything:).

  5. Actually you can eat and drink. But if you dribble ketchup on your shirt you can't wipe it off, that would be grooming. Your eating and drinking has to be one handed of course. Not all bad, the stuff people do behind the wheel certainly can make them a hazard. And trying to spank your kids while driving is probably a distraction. i think i may have tried that once... pretty tough when they are in a carseat lol

  6. Are they going to outlaw the drive through at Tim Hortons then?

  7. Good question, Huskybear! It's bad enough that they're messing with the size of coffee at Tim's; this is the next skid on that slippery slope! And taking it to its logical conclusion, any drive throughs would be dangerous, right? Including drive-through ATM machines: if it's illegal to pull over to the side of the road to make a phone call, as it is reported to be in some jurisdictions (because the logic is that you're still behind the wheel in your car), then SURELY it's pretty risky to be leaning OUT of your car to get money when you're behind the wheel! Where else can we take this? :-)


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