Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When is a cigarette like a cellphone?

When is a cigarette like a cellphone?

They’re both addictive, go well with coffee and absolutely do not belong behind the wheel of your car. Yes, distracted driving has been around ever since someone lit up a cigarette behind the wheel of a Model T. But it took until May 2007 for someone (in Italy, of all places) to recognize the risk of smoking and driving.

In Ontario and many other jurisdictions, it's illegal to use a cellphone while driving (unless you're the mayor of Toronto). Ontario also has all kinds of laws about where you can't smoke, but it's only illegal to smoke in your car if there's a child.

In fact, there are a trunkful of seemingly innocent activities that can seduce your focus away from the road. Here’s a sample, compiled by the Canadian Automobile Association.

  • Something unexpected alongside the roadway
  • An unexpected noise
  • Operating the radio
  • Adjusting the temperature
  • Using in-car devices like GPS
  • Eating, drinking and smoking
  • Grooming
  • Talking to passengers
  • Tending to children
  • Reading or writing

Recently, the Insurance Bureau of Canada claimed that talking on the cellphone while driving impairs your driving ability as much as someone with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent!

Finally, the good folks at Lifespan did a study that showed ignoring a full bladder can impair your cognitive functions to the same extent as too much alcohol or sleep deprivation, and therefore affect your driving.

That’s why gas stations have washrooms. Pull over, please!


  1. Good on you, Krystyna, for bringing forward this topic. In MB, we made using a cell phone while driving illegal last year and I'm surprised at how many people we STILL see talking on their phones while driving.

    And definitely smoking, eating, putting on makeup, holding a pet or a child while driving all cause similar risks. Far more than just having one drink does (which is the equivalent of .05, the rate of blood/alcohol for which they'll issue you a warning in MB.)

    Doreen Pendgracs

  2. Thanks, Doreen! The laws dealing with cell phone use while driving vary from one jurisdiction to another, but you'd think by now we would all know better. And then there are those seemingly innocent activities that are just as distracting ... for which there are no laws. Are we so wrapped up in multitasking that we forget to use our common sense?!?!


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  4. Great post, Krystyna! Despite the laws prohibiting cell phone use, my very own brother sometimes still uses the cell phone while driving. But don't tell him I said so, okay? It'll be our little secret: -).

    1. Grace, my lips are sealed! Maybe Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny will bring him a bluetooth device...?