Ever since October 26th, 2009, life on the road has changed. That was the day the music died. And by that, I mean, the day where the ban on using hand-held devices while driving, was put into effect in Ontario. This was a plan implemented by the McGuinty government, to make Ontario’s roads safer. Ever since that Monday morning, I woke up an all new me. The second I get into my car (note: before I even put on my seatbelt), I plug my headset into my Blackberry. I’m all set and sure to not peak over at my Blackberry, and have been pretty good at doing just that. However, I’ve become a handheld-device detective and at red lights (or in bumper-to-bumber traffic going south on the DVP at 9 a.m.), I’m glancing around at the cars around me, trying to ‘bust’ someone. Have you found yourself in the same position?

Based on my observations, it seems as though many Ontarionians are on the ball. But being on the ball doesn’t mean we aren’t using our devices, it just means we are using bluetooth, or a handsfree mode. So here I am, glancing around, and everyone on the road looks like they are either a) borderline crazy, or b) in an in-depth phone call. I’ve found entertainment in playing ‘crazy?’ or, ‘safety crazed,’ as I look around at people seemingly talking to themselves in the safety of their car, using gestures, and expressions, and deciding whether I think they are on the phone with someone, or whether they are talking to themselves. I then begin to wonder what I look like while I’m gossiping my hour commute home from work, as I tackle back-to-back phone calls with friends.

When I used to be in the broadcasting industry, and worked at a TV show, the shows host sat down with me one day and we discussed how I can get on the air. I remember him telling me his trick of the trade is talking to himself. He suggested I take time while driving in my car, to talk to myself out loud. He said people may look at me as if I’m crazy, but it’s a great way to get comfortable with how others judge me, and comfortable with filling silences. This was a few years back. If I was still trying to pursue that dream, I’d likely test it out now. It’s interesting that now that so many people are sitting in the cars seemingly talking to themselves, that I now feel comfort in it. I remember last summer, driving on a road trip up north where I was meeting someone. On the way up, I heard some classic, sing it at the top of your lungs, road trip type tunes. The luxury of driving a long distance alone, is getting to take control of the music, and singing along – you guessed it – at the top of your lungs. Being a twentysomething, I was always concerned what other drivers would think. That’s when I would pull out my Blackberry, put it on my ear, and pretend I was talking to someone on the phone, “At first I was afraid, I was petrified,” I’d say into the phone, as I tried to give the most Gloria Gayner-esque voice I had in me. Needless to say, on tonights drive home from the office, I decided to put in The Beatles Revolution CD, sans the Blackberry Mic.

If you are a resident of Ontario, here are some basic facts for blondes on the new ban, as indicated on news.ontario.ca:

– Under Ontario’s new law, fines of up to $500 can be levied against distracted drivers who text, type, email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device

– Ontario joins more than 50 countries worldwide and a growing number of North American jurisdictions that have similar distracted driving legislation including Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, California and New York

– Teens and young people under 35 are the most frequent users of cell phones while driving

– You are able to voice dial. The device should act similar to how you turn on and off a radio, it doesn’t occupy your hand

*Need to call 911? All drivers CAN use hand held devices to call 911!*

Drive Safely my fellow blondies.

– Jenny Jen


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