In Case You're An Idiot: Canada Wants To Make It Illegal To Play Video Games While Driving

from the who-writes-this-stuff? dept

In the past, we've pointed out how silly it was for various politicians to go about banning very specific actions for drivers. There are a ton of distractions for drivers, and you're never going to successfully outlaw all of them. But it doesn't stop politicians from trying. Earlier this year, we asked for suggestions on what else politicians might try to ban while driving (beyond earlier bills that were put forth in various legislatures trying to ban using a laptop, using OnStar, faxing and (everyone's favorite) having sex while driving.

The latest is up in Canada, where a bill on driver distractions includes a ban on playing portable video game systems. While my first thought was whether or not this means it would still be legal to hook up a console gaming system and play it, that thought was quickly erased by the most basic question of all: who doesn't already recognize that you should not be playing a handheld video game while driving? I mean, if we're going to start banning totally theoretical dangerous driving activities, I'd like to throw juggling while driving onto the list. That's gotta be distracting. We must ban it. To save our children, of course.

Of course, to highlight how ridiculous this law is, it says it's okay for you to change stations on the radio while driving -- but you would be fined for skipping a song on your iPod. Why the distinction? Who knows. Reporters, sensing the ridiculousness of the situation, questioned a supporter of the new bill, asking him if it would be illegal to change songs on your iPod if the iPod were taped to the dash, like a radio. His response? "I would have to look at that one," while then noting "the proposed law is fairly general with details to come." Ah, so let's rush into passing a law, and then we'll work out the details of what the law actually means later?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    dave, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 2:46pm

    From the Star article:

    To illustrate his point, he hopped into a driving simulator while making a cellphone call with one hand on the wheel, ended up going the wrong way and crashed into a wall.

    This had me laughing out loud.

     

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    Jake, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 3:16pm

    Not As Dumb As It Sounds

    There will inevitably be someone, somewhere whose daddy is rich enough to afford a lawyer who can smooth-talk them out of trouble for being caught playing with a PSP at the wheel if this isn't made hard law.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 9:24am

      Re: As Dumb As It Sounds

      There will inevitably be someone, somewhere whose daddy is rich enough to afford a lawyer who can smooth-talk them out of trouble for being caught playing with a PSP at the wheel if this IS made hard law.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 3:42pm

    Heck yeah! Ever seen the movie Parenthood? Bad things happen when you mix gadget fiddling and driving!

     

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    tracker1, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 3:57pm

    Isn't there already a law for this?

    Couldn't/Wouldn't these things be covered under a generic law... Maybe we could call it something that fits the result for those that would try... It's very reckless after all. Hey, that's it, we'll call it "Reckless Driving". What a great term, good thing nobody even thought of it.

     

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      Pitabred, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 4:05pm

      Re: Isn't there already a law for this?

      The problem is that society has come to believe that if it's not explicitly illegal, it must be legal.

      "Your honor, reckless driving would mean that he was driving with disregard to the consequences of his actions... I propose my client simply did not know the consequences of his actions, and therefore cannot be held to have been reckless, simply uninformed. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but this is ignorance of the consequences of his actions, not of the law."

       

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    Jesse, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 4:02pm

    Do laws like these have the effect of making other stupid things legal because they too were not explicitly mentioned? ie Mike's question about console games vs. portable games.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 4:03pm

    You should patent or copyright that... not sure what one, I get so confused lately. Hell stick a trademark on it as well and you'll be covered.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 4:07pm

    I'm sure every country has such silly laws and I only notice the American ones because I frequent this site, but as a Brit, once again I have to think to myself "only in America!". Wonderful, it's almost hard to believe that it isn't brilliant satire.

     

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      Young American, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 4:24pm

      Re:

      While I agree that we Americans do have some unique legislative and social foibles, this article is about proposed Canadian legislation.

      Last time I checked my friends to the north are still exerting their independence from the crown and the White House. :)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 4:30pm

    FYI - the proposed law isn't Federal, just Provincial

    Ontario is only one of 10 provinces in Canada, thus the headline is misleading. It's like saying 'USA outlaws video gaming while driving' because of some law in California.

    Cheers, eh?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 4:31pm

    Ah the memories

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    Ah the memories

    Reminds me of when I had a bus driver who would play gameboy while driving kids home from school. Still, I agree, this is just reckless driving and shouldn't need explicit laws.

    Sorry about that blank comment right there also, accidentally hit enter while the cursor was still in the subject line.

     

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    bill dyszel, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 5:08pm

    no brain surgery while driving

    It should definitely be illegal to perform brain surgery on yourself while driving. As soon as it is, I'll stop.

     

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    colin, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 5:08pm

    another Ontario law

    Another law being pushed in Ontario, Bill 117 2008, would make it illegal to have a passenger under 14 on a motorcycle. "with a view to promoting safety on Ontario's roads and protecting youth from preventable injuries."
    Cars presumably are safe for those under 14. Assuming of course they are not forcing their parents to play video games.

    Presumably 14 and under can still ride bicycles, skateboard and climb trees though. There is still time to work on laws about those.

     

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    Gordon the Beaver, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 5:59pm

    Use your carrier pigeon instead.

    Use of hand held cell phones is illegal; it's just an amendment to block a legal loophole and is to include anything of similar type hardware to be used while driving.

    Silly out of context, but not silly when understood.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 12:20am

    Urine Id Yet

    Taking the piss, maybe...

     

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    Twinrova, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 4:16am

    Maybe if politicians would use real world data, people would take notice!

    A year or two ago, some company came out with a study which showed a list of the top 10 driving distractions.

    Want to know what #1 is (for the upteenth year in a row)?
    Children.

    That's right! drivers with screaming kids are often more distracted by cellphone users, makeup artists, readers, and yes, even game players...combined.

    That's big. Now, if these politicians then turned around and banned kids from riding, maybe, just maybe, parents will then get involved in what these idiot politicians are doing to stop them.

    Because telling a parent they can't drag their screaming rugrat with them will definitely piss them off, especially when they can't get a sitter at the last minute.

     

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    Lee Christensen, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 5:46am

    With all due respect to our neighbor's to the south, you may want to become a little more informed with regards to geography outside your own country. The law is provincial(ie. State), not Federal. In this case the province being Ontario. If you actually followed the links to the source article, you'd find this out.

    Do California laws apply across the Union?

     

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      Gordon the Beaver, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 5:56am

      Re:

      To add to that, we are also the biggest country in North America, AND, we are on top. Just check out a map. He he he ... eh!

       

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    Kevin, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 6:36am

    MisInterpreted

    The bill is against the use of portable electronic devices while driving. For example, cell phones, text messaging, and yes iPods. To be clear, changing the tune on your iPod is far more distracting than tuning the radio. Radios can be tuned by ear not requiring the driver to take his/her eyes off the road, whereas and iPod requires the driver to read a list of information and scroll through the song choices often at length until they find the song/album they wish to listen to. The distraction of radio tuning is further reduced by on wheel radio controls. Speaking to the distraction of the iPod I have witnessed a driver in Toronto scrolling through a list of songs on their iPod rear end another vehicle at a stop light because they weren't paying attention. To be fair he wasn't moving very quickly but it clearly demonstrates the possibility for inattention.

    While I agree that to safely pilot a motor vehicle ought to be the responsibility of the driver, drivers are clearly failing in this regard. Enough so that laws like this have to be introduced because people are idiots. I would prefer that the language be encompassing enough to just say, you must devote your full attention when driving, without having to single out electronic devices. But because law is what it is today there will always be someone who can argue the law was too vague and the charges should be dropped. So we have a law that is really specific, to the point of absurdity, and leaves giant gaps of stupidity for people to fall into.

    Kevin

    P.S. I would imagine portable gaming was included because the latest batch of iPod's are quite capable of similar functions.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 9:35am

      Re: MisInterpreted

      Radios can be tuned by ear not requiring the driver to take his/her eyes off the road, whereas and iPod requires blah, blah, blah...

      Is it illegal to switch CDs? You know, reach over the back seat to get my larger-than-lap sized binder with 230 discs inside, flip through a couple dozen over-sized pages, pull one out, juggle the old CD out of the player and the new one in...? I imagine that's at least as distracting as hitting "Next" on a iPod...

       

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    thecaptain, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 6:41am

    Who indeed?

    While my first thought was whether or not this means it would still be legal to hook up a console gaming system and play it, that thought was quickly erased by the most basic question of all: who doesn't already recognize that you should not be playing a handheld video game while driving?

    Setting aside the stupidity/wisdom of this law, I would like to answer this question.

    I saw this morning (and it wasn't the first time) someone playing his PSP in the driver's seat in the rush hour traffic.

    I've seen women apply makeup on a daily basis, people reading the paper (or a book), people eating.

    What is going on with our society? How did we collectively get so stupid?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 9:38am

      Re: Who indeed?

      Because we're so busy! There's no time in the morning to eat a meal, put on makeup, read the paper... We have to move, move, move! Time is money, and other such BS. If we weren't such an over-stressed workaholic society, we wouldn't have a lot of these problems.

       

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    Marshall Midden, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 8:03am

    Playing Chess while driving should be outlawed.

    Who cares about video games? The next grand master to while the world chess tournament from the US will be practicing 14 hours a day. We must insure that those pieces aren't a threat to his well being when he hits a wall while driving. We can protect him from the wall with an air bag, but those flying pieces are sharp and will become like rockets upon sudden impact -- similar to babies not in car seats. Let us make sure that this potential champion does not get killed!

    Let us outlaw driving while playing chess.

     

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    Mogilny, Oct 31st, 2008 @ 4:02pm

    What a Joke.

    How are they going to enforce this? No officer will show up to court for this sort of ticket. Why don't they force car manufacturers to put touch sensors on the steering wheel and zappers to zap drivers if their hands are off the wheel for too long? That idiot probably didn't even know what an IPod is.

     

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    Wraith, Nov 1st, 2008 @ 8:16am

    Darwinism

    There are too many people in this world. Darwinsim should be allowed to filter us out so we can evolve as a species. Quality vs Quantity. How about either educating people so they can learn to be responsible and make good choices. How about teaching them how to drive before they get a license. Instead of using tax and insurance dollars to pay for beaurocrats and excessive lawyers salaries. If we need lawyers then use them to include insurance clauses that limit benifits payed if such distracting devices are found so the driver understands the damages will be their responsibility. (put the money saved into uninsured motorist Ins.) Eliminate no fault Ins. I guarantee you that will limit how many people drive and text. For those who don't have regard for the lives of others or have common sense, they will be removed from the gene pool - as a species we will evolve. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but how long do we have to walk on egg shells to get around morons. Personally, I would like to get on with my life. I am usually a people kind of guy, but when I hve to work with people who stop trying or show a complete lack of desire to think, I find them to be a total drain on my resources. Let them pasively dig their own grave and move on. These people cannot be babysat. Move foward, life is too short to make litigation so comlicated.

     

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    Jen, Nov 2nd, 2008 @ 6:40am

    In case you're an idiot

    Ontario does not equal Canada.

    You're writing a "legal issues" blog and can't be bothered to learn the difference between federal and provincial issues while still feeling compelled to comment on them?

    Impressive.

     

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