No, You Can't Read While Driving

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Drivers around Sydney have been spotted eating, doing their make-up and even reading textbooks by the Daily Telegraph. According to the report, there's nothing cops can do about it because of "legal loopholes" in our road rules. This is patently rubbish.

The Daily Telegraph claims these distracted drivers are using a loophole to "treat their cars like a bedroom, bathroom or even a study".

That loophole being that the legislation doesn't explicitly say that those drivers cannot do their distracting activities - unlike using a mobile phone. That's the same logic used in the Air Bud movies ("Ain't no rules says a dog can't play basketball!") Um, that's not how the law works.

All states and territories have their own road rules and they all have variations on the following: "A driver must not drive a vehicle unless the driver has proper control of the vehicle." Fines and demerit points apply for those that don't.

Is It Legal To Eat While Driving?

Most drivers don't give a second thought to snacking behind the wheel. We have fast food drive-thrus all over the country, so it must be legal, right?

As it turns out, "eat-driving" might not be as safe - or as lawful - as you think.

Read more

Reading a book is not maintaining proper control of your vehicle. Doing your make-up is not maintaining proper control of your vehicle. Eating a bowl of cereal is not maintaining proper control of your vehicle.

People don't always get caught when they break the law. You only need to wander into any major city around Australia to see jaywalkers aplenty. Don't confuse seeing someone getting away with something as that being legal behaviour.

In a statement to the Daily Telegraph, Traffic and Highway Patrol chief inspector Phil Brooks said “We want road users, drivers, riders, cyclists and pedestrians to keep their eyes on the road at all times, be aware of others and share the road safely."

Put the book down and keep your eyes on the road. Stay focused and drive safe.


Comments

    Stopping people from doing stuff while stuck in traffic is great - it helps reduce the severity of traffic, to start with. Distracted people take longer to react to opportunities to FUCKING MOVE ALREADY. Hell, just a couple hours ago I nearly got run over by some idiot who had come to a complete stop a good five metres before a car park boom gate, who looked up from her fucking phone, panicked when she realized the car she'd been behind had already gone through and was nowhere to be seen, and she better gun it to the boom gate without checking for pedestrians. Fuckwit.

    Though there's possibly a flaw in the legal argument: you are absolutely in control of your vehicle if your foot is on the brake pedal and there's nowhere for your vehicle to go. Technicalities are a funny thing. I spent fifteen minutes in one spot trying to get to Westfield Chermside, last night. If it hadn't fucked with my shitty bluetooth interface, I would've just turned the engine off until we were starting to move again to save petrol. Even though that'd be technically illegal parking? What about those engines that turn themselves off for the same reason...

    Technical hypotheticals aside, I feel like there's still an underlying problem not being addressed, here. The fact is, people are spending so long stationary that they feel they have TIME to undertake other activities. And hell, maybe they're right. That's not OK. There's responsibility to be shared, there. After all, there's a reason cops get involved in traffic control around stadiums on Game Days, and it's not to arrest jay-walkers. It's to better control what everyone everywhere KNOWS is going to happen without some kind of adaptation to the changed circumstances.

    What we're probably looking at it something smaller-scale, over a longer time-scale - changed circumstances resulting in changed behaviours, which needs to be examined.

      Couldn't you just turn to accessory, killing the engine but leaving power for you bluetooth?

      I'm not sure the police could book you if you turned off your engine in a long traffic jam. I suppose it's possible that it's in breach of something, but the chances of them actually booking you are minute.

      I'm not sure that people are actually stopped so long they think they can do stuff like eat breakfast in the car. I think a lot of people are just impatient and stupid and try to do stuff like that. I've watched a woman go nuts at a boomgate at a railway crossing because apparently 30 seconds was too long to wait for a train to go past. And I regularly see people on phones or doing makeup or looking at books (maybe maps) even when they're actually driving not just sitting stopped.

      A bit of a non-driving comment about the article. Some of the people you see "jaywalking" actually aren't. If I remember correctly jaywalking requires a couple elements - if you cross within 20 metres of a marked crossing you can be done, so if you're further away from a crossing you should be ok. Unless you cross in an unsafe manner (like running between parked cars or something). 20 metres is actually a really short distance, so lots of people you think are jaywalking probably aren't.

    Whatever happened to that good old catch-all: 'Driving without due care and attention'?

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