Recently the Québec highway safety code was tweaked to make it an offence to text while driving. I wouldn’t have thought that would be necessary, considering the level of stupidity required to attempt to look at and type on a mobile device instead of concentrating on driving. But the new law makes it an offence not only to text while the vehicle is moving, but also when stopped at a red light. This should cut down on drivers who do not pay attention to the traffic light and therefore do not move once the light turns green. They seem to rely on the horn-tooting of those behind them to put down (hopefully) the phone and start driving.
According to the law:
No person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that includes a telephone function. […] [A] driver who is holding a hand-held device that includes a telephone function is presumed to be using the device.
Simply holding a cell phone in your hand, for any reason, while driving a road vehicle is illegal.
What does “while driving” mean?
- If you are at the wheel of a road vehicle in a traffic lane, you are driving.
- Even when you are stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, you are driving!
I believe the time has come for a similar regulation for pedestrians. Montrealers tend to be scofflaws when it comes to crossing against a red light. When there is a group of people waiting for the light to change to green, it usually means a) there are too many passing cars to cross, b) it is the annual police cash-grab crackdown on jaywalking, or c) those waiting are out-of-town tourists.
While waiting for the green light many folks take advantage of the chance to check their mobile devices. I have noticed that the same phenomenon found while driving is now common at street corners. When the light does turn green, many people do not notice and therefore do not move. On several occasions I have bumped into a person who is standing and staring at their phone instead of walking, putting into possible peril my nose and front teeth. Some have the gall to imply that I have done something wrong!
I have considered carrying a Harpo Marx style horn to politely toot when those in front of me zone out and tie up pedestrian traffic. (To be honest I wanted to get one of those aerosol can air horns, but feared the potential for cardiac arrest, leading charges of homicide.)
I am all in favour of pedestrians leaving their cars at home to go downtown, but for God’s sake walk when you’re supposed to or stay home!