Election hot button: distracted driving

image from NB flag for cell phone lawDistracted driving has yet to emerge as an election issue in the U.S., but it’s making news on the campaign trail in Canada’s New Brunswick province.

The current Liberal government has come under fire once again for its foot-dragging in enacting specific distracted driving laws. New Brunswick remains one of two Canadian provinces without laws against text messaging while driving.

Political Conservatives have said several times during their campaign for the fall election that they’ll promptly enact distracted driving legislation if victorious in the fall.

The issue hit the front burner Sept. 6 with the death of a young man on the Trans-Canada Highway. The driver was sending a text message when he lost control of his car and crashed into a rock wall, a passenger told police.

Progressive Conservative Leader David Alward charged that the Liberals “have had an opportunity for the last few years to bring (cell phone and texting laws) forward. We’ve asked many times the minister what his position was on it.”

Liberal Leader Shawn Graham vowed that there were would be “a comprehensive piece of legislation to deal with texting, to deal with cellphones while driving and a number of other distractions that can occur behind the wheel.”

CBC News noted that the Public Safety Department had long resisted a New Brunswick ban on cellphone use while driving, focusing instead on public education. At one point it announced plans to see how distracted driving laws worked out in other provinces before taking any action.

Alward told the Times & Transcript that “New Brunswick is one of the last jurisdictions that still allows it. It is unsafe and for the protection of all our citizens, it’s necessary to do.” His party brought up the issue over the summer.

A local politician, David Kelly of Fredericton, recently asked: “What is it gonna take? “Is it gonna take a certain ration of accidents? What do we have to do here in New Brunswick? What else is it gonna take for us to go that next step?”

New Brunswick’s general election is set for Sept. 27.

Alberta also has no laws against use of handheld cell phones and text messaging. The government has said it will debate the issue this fall.


  1. @Lisa: “If Oprah can make Obama an election item then why can’t she make distracted driving an issue?”

    She had at least one show about people who have died to distracted driving. They also showed a study where using a hands-free device is still extremely dangerous. Your brain actually “removes” items from your field of vision (stop signs, pedestrians, etc). It’s really scary stuff.

  2. If Oprah can make Obama an election item then why can’t she make distracted driving an issue?

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