Queen's University — Since 1873
26th July 2011

Motor matters

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After witnessing a mother of two text and drive on the interstate into Los Angeles, Oprah threw out a few frustrated tweets about reckless driving.

“Where is COMMON SENSE?!” was followed by “How many people have to be killed before we ‘get it’? Texting while driving is crazy.”

Of course, Oprah’s words of warning were quickly replaced by other thoughts—as is the nature of Twitter. But in retrospect, I’m sorry I didn’t stop to think about her tweets. I briefly read them, but I didn’t “get” them, scrolling passively through my phone. Warnings are easy to forget, but doing so usually results in the universe slapping you in the face.

20 minutes after my social media break, I was driving and got pulled over for texting at a red light. Less than a minute after that Ashton Kutcher coincidentally tweeted, “ACT YOUR AGE.” Insert slap here.

Fair enough Twitterverse, I deserved that. Texting is among the most immature excuses for reckless driving. To try and talk my way out of that ticket would have been a new low.

Luckily, the officer was generous enough to let me off with a warning and some educational facts. According to him, I could have been fined $500 for violating Bill 118, Ontario’s ban on handheld devices. While texting, I had increased my chances of having a car crash by 400 per cent.

Especially in these summer months, reckless driving isn’t just relevant to driving cars. Cottages become a likely place to find groups of people partying on any given weekend. It makes drinking and driving a boat as much of a risk.

This month, a friend of mine died in a drinking and boating accident. He was an older brother and a son, and the words “preventable” and “tragedy” have never rung so true to me.

BOATsmart! Canada made a few strict changes to the official boating license requirements last April. The judicial consequences are now similarly aggressive for drinking and driving boats, cars and snowmobiles in Ontario. The literal and figurative warning signs are present, but apparently my smartphone blocked my view.

It’s by no means an obscure or elusive topic, but it exhaustingly feels like a perpetual problem. Whether it’s texting or drinking, we can’t count on the universe to tweet us every time we might make a mistake. So hopefully this is a lasting warning: don’t get slapped in the face.

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