Leave phone alone when driving, or sign this pledge

I’ve had a burial plot with my name on it since I was 12 years old.

That’s thanks to the number cancer did on my 13-year-old sister and the commonsense, down-to-earth, country folks who raised us figuring "we have to buy one plot, why not get the adjacent ones for when the rest of us go."

Dad finally left this realm in 2010. That’s thanks to decades of smoking and many years of drowning in his own lung mucus from emphysema. He never tried to sidestep the issues. He said he lit those cigarettes, and lived and died with the consequences. Those would be a decade of infirmity and him wishing each day for several years that he wouldn’t wake up each morning. His ashes are beside my sister, too, in a cemetery in Calgary.

So I know where I’m going to end up, but not when. I don’t want any help getting there.

Yes, I’m looking at you, motorist with the cellphone/iPad/sushi platter/makeup brush.

Only, you don’t notice because you’re too wrapped up texting, talking or otherwise doing other stuff that’s not driving. The fines and self-preservation don’t seem to be working. Distracted driving is now the second-leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C., trailing behind speed and narrowly ahead of impaired driving.

"Yeah, but that’s not me," people will say. "I’m responsible when I use my devices behind the wheel. I can effectively do all that stuff."

The police are having a campaign to crack down on distracted driving. That’s the term for those who choose to believe they can do eight things at once and none are driving. Guess what, driving is a complex enough task without more stunts.

What will happen when a driver thinks he or she has mastered the art of driving while being a digital divo or diva? (Urban dictionary time: divo – the male version of a diva.)

Will people look to add fire breathing or knife swallowing?

Multitasking is not as effective as people think, and we are not as good as it as we think.

To combat distracted driving, some people are signing pledges not to use their devices.

Nice, but it doesn’t really have enough oomph. Instead, we need to have a different kind of pledge, maybe one that covers consequences people might not think of.

Something like this: "I pledge that, if someone hits me, when I am a pedestrian or while within a vehicle and while he/she is on a cell, using a device or doing something classed as distracted driving, they’d better kill me, because if I survive, I will spend the rest of my life devoted to F-ing up (insert own choice of expletive here) him or her so badly that they wish they and automobiles and cellphones had never been born.

"That effort will include tying up their keisters in legal knots for as long as possible, including but not exclusively referencing legal action taken on my behalf related to the Crown/police/courts, and by ICBC and/or other insurance carriers, banks, etc. with a vested interest not only in my person and my automobile but also my quality of life, employment, health, longevity, my mortgage/rent and ability to go to the bathroom on my own.

"I also pledge that once those processes are played out, I will pursue civil action against said dolt so that any hope of a stable income and stable life is lost in a morass of paperwork, court appearances and garnishments. Codicil: If there’s alcohol/drugs involved on top of this, oooohh you don’t even want Heather Colpitts to know…"

If we had oodles of people signing pledges like that, maybe we could stay more focused on the task of driving.

Heather Colpitts is a reporter with Langley Advance, a Now sister newspaper.

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