EDITORIAL: No call worth a life

Drive down virtually any street and it becomes obvious how effective the ban on cell phone use while driving has been.

This month marks the first anniversary of the law, which prohibits the use of hand-held devices while driving.

And yet, odds are you’ll see someone talking – or texting – while they’re behind the wheel.

They are risking a lot. Not only do they face a $167 fine, they could incur three penalty points. Last year, police handed out nearly 32,000 tickets to distracted drivers.

But the danger runs deeper than that.

Police estimate distracted drivers are responsible for one-third of traffic-related fatalities in the province. Last year there were 104 traffic deaths attributed to distracted drivers.

The message is clear: pay attention or pay the price.

Police say they’ll be stepping up enforcement of the new law this month.

But it should not take the threat of stronger enforcement to make us pay attention.

Driving a motor vehicle is not a game. It requires attention and concentration. Things happen fast, and if drivers are not focused, tragedy can occur.

And it’s not just cell phones that can be a problem. Pets, passengers, a cup of coffee, even a cigarette can all draw a driver’s eye off the road.

It’s important that we not only pay attention while driving, but we set good examples for our children, who will one day be behind a wheel.

Stay alert.

Stay focused.

And if the phone rings, or a text arrives, pull over to respond.

If you’re an employer, initiate a company policy that makes driving safety a priority. That means employees out on the road know it’s OK to take a few moments before making contact.

The bottom line is that there is simply no call or message worth a life.

– Black Press