Distracted-walking laws go a step too far

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
November 9, 2017 - 5:47am Updated: November 9, 2017 - 11:17am

KAMLOOPS — Higher fines for distracted driving are now in effect, and the B.C. government announced this week that the next step will be higher auto insurance premiums.

In addition to penalty points and fines, those collecting distracted driving tickets will have to pay a special premium that could add as much as $2,000 to their bill.

I’m all for it. There are still way too many yahoos out there texting as they barrel along in their two-ton death machines.

It’s not just about texting, of course. Let’s face it, who among us hasn’t on occasion answered a cellphone call when our piece-of-junk, after-market, hang-on-the-visor Blue Tooth is on the fritz, and we know it’s our better half needing us to pick something up on the way home.

We know it’s wrong. Still, how far do we go with cracking down on distractions? You did know, didn’t you, that sucking on that Starbuck’s latte or Tim’s double-double as you head to work is considered distracted driving?

Seriously, if the gendarmes and government were to get serious about that, wouldn’t it make sense to outlaw the drive-thru coffee shops and restaurants that supply the stuff?

Good luck with that.

But where it gets seriously ridiculous is the idea of making distracted walking an offence, which has happened in some places. They’re called zombie laws.

Walk down any sidewalk and you’ll bump into somebody — literally — yakking on their cellphone.

Take away a smart phone and the average person soon begins sweating and twitching as withdrawal sets in. But we can’t control every possible nuance of human behavior.

The rationale for distracted walking penalties is that a phone-blabbing or texting pedestrian might miss a signal and walk into a car or bicycle. It happens, but I’d venture to say most pedestrians who get hit by cars are properly and legally in crosswalks with the right of way.

Pedestrians, of course, should pay attention. But let’s allow reason to prevail and reel in the long arm of the law.

I’m Mel Rothenburger the Armchair Mayor.

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