Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Driving While Under the Influence of Conversation

"Cellphones, whether we're manipulating them or not, are dangerous while driving motorized vehicles and should possibly be completely banned."
"There are basically no cases in front of the courts that have held a person criminally responsible for the death of another because they were using their cellphones while driving."
"Regardless of the consequences of their actions, the worst a driver found guilty can face is a fine and a few demerit points."
"Mentalities and legislation [need to evolve placing cellphone use on par with driving while inebriated]."
Quebec coroner Renee Roussel, Montreal
Une coroner recommande l'interdiction complète du cellulaire au... (Photothèque Le Soleil)
Quebec coroner recommends outright banning of cellphone use while driving. Photothèque Le Soleil

"It's almost unthinkable that something like this could happen on that street [ordinarily quiet and safe, where children can walk without fear of danger]."
"I would never want to destroy someone else's life [being charged with manslaughter over causing a death while using a cellphone]. But I do believe in the notion of responsibility."
Sonia Bouchard, daughter of 75-year-old pedestrian Florilda Castonguay
Florilda Castonguay had a habit of taking a late afternoon walk daily, around the vicinity of her home in St-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska, a town northeast of Quebec City. On Sunday, 29 November last year, she embarked on her usual walk at roughly the same time as every other day: before sundown and early enough to enjoy her walk but ensuring she would return home to prepare dinner for herself and her husband.

It was a cold day as late November can be, but the street (typical of most suburban areas where sidewalks are mostly absent on esidential streets in a car-centric society) was crusted with dirty snow and ice at the edges, leaving Mrs. Castonguay to walk closer to the centre of the road than might be usual under other circumstances, though the road wasn't icy underfoot. She was hit from behind at 3:30 p.m., mere seconds after a man driving facing her, noticed her presence ahead, and just as a vehicle drove in the opposite direction, behind her.

That vehicle plowed into the fit and healthy woman. On contact, the car's bumper collided hard with the back of her knees and she tumbled violently over the car. According to witnesses, the driver called 911 and tended to the woman as she lay unconscious in the street. When the ambulance arrived, paramedics assessed her condition and speedily took her to hospital, with a severely fractured skull. By 6:40 p.m., the 75-year-old Florilda Castonguay was pronounced dead.

Police were told by the driver that he had been distracted by his passenger and as a result braked only at the last second, according to the coroner's report. However, the length of the skid marks led police in a different direction; they felt that the car had been driven about 30 kilometres per hour as it hit Mrs. Castonguay and ruled out the potential of the driver having to contend with the sun obscuring his vision, nor were there other vehicles present, to distract him.

With the use of cellphone records in their thorough investigation, it was discovered by police that the driver had been using his cellphone, despite his categorical denials. The records indicated otherwise. The coroner's report had ruled that the death was an accident. On the other hand, the coroner took pains to point out that the law does not sufficiently recognize the potential danger to the public weal when people use cellphones while driving, even though the use of cellphones while driving is illegal.

Coroner Roussel recommended the possibility of technological devices such as jammers cutting off cellphone signals as long as the phone is in a vehicle, to make it impossible for people to use them while driving a vehicle. She pointed out that hands-free Bluetooth systems too, though less hazardous, remain a major distraction to a driver who should be focusing on the road and vehicular and pedestrian traffic, not a conversation.

As for Mrs. Castonguay's family, they are in deep grief mode Her husband had fallen ill following his wife's death. And their daughter has her hands full looking after her bereaved widowed father.

"Cellphones, whether we’re manipulating them or not, are harmful while driving motorized automobiles and will probably be utterly banned" coroner Renée Roussel wrote in her investigation into the death of a seventy-five-year-old Quebec woman. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet