Think you can make a flawless left turn while chatting on your cell phone, all while staying completely focused on the road? Think again. A study published last week in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows there are significant risks to using your cell phone while making a left turn – even if you’re hands-free.
The Study and What It Means for You
Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto studied the brain activity of 16 participants, both men and women, as they made left turns on a driving simulator. They asked basic questions and monitored how the participants’ brains responded. Different parts of the brain became more active, but what was most striking was the huge drop in attention devoted to visual processing. In other words, that could impair your ability to make a safe left turn.
Left turns at busy intersections carry enough risk as it is, what with watching out for pedestrians, keeping an eye on the traffic light and, of course, observing oncoming traffic. So it’s no surprise that a large number of serious accidents occur at these very locations. The added distraction of someone talking to you over the phone – even if you’re not holding the phone – could make you more likely to slip up in a situation that demands your full attention with very serious consequences.
Cell Phone Bans and Legislation in Canada
Aside from the risk to your own safety and those around you, there’s another reason to resist the temptation to use your phone at the wheel. All ten Canadian provinces have some sort of legislation restricting the use of cell phones while driving. While legislation in some areas may involve demerit points, others do not. For example, in Ontario, using a handheld communication device while driving could land you a $155 ticket but no demerit points. This law does not apply if you are pulled off to the side of the road or parked, or if you need to dial 9 1 1. However, the consequences could be much steeper if you are charged with careless or even dangerous driving because you are not focused on the road.
Tips on Making a Proper Left Turn
- Put that phone away! Even if you are not covered by a cell phone ban, it’s still risky to be fiddling with it while driving.
- Put any other distraction on hold, whether it’s listening to a radio talk show or reprogramming your GPS. You can even ask a talkative passenger to hang on a minute while you make the turn.
- Wait for the car ahead of you to make its turn before entering the intersection.
- Don’t enter the intersection on a yellow light. It’s not worth the risk.
While we hope you never get a ticket for making an improper left turn or for using your cell phone while driving, if you do, contact Toronto traffic lawyers, XCopper, to get a free consultation and learn about your rights.