...preferably between your knees. (Anybody else out there old enough to remember Jack Nicholson in "Five Easy Pieces"?)
The Ontario government continued its stunning failure to grasp the obvious today when it proposed banning the use of hand-held electronic devices such as cell phones, GPS units and BlackBerrys by car drivers.
No less an august body than the Ontario Medical Association pointed out what has been proven by research conducted around the world, including some right here at the University of Toronto over ten years ago, that the danger of using these things has little or nothing to do with a deterioration of manual dexterity; it's the mental distraction caused by the conversation or task.
Talking on a cell phone is roughly equivalent to driving drunk. Hand-held or hands-free, it makes no difference.
The other interesting research tidbit is that cell phone users don't get instantly sober when they hang up. Deterioration of the driving task can last as long as fifteen minutes after the call is completed.
So if the government thinks it has a case - and it clearly does, as anyone who drives in this town can see every single day - they should ban the use of these things altogether.
But of course, they don't have the political courage.
One thing that has always intrigued me: why does talking to someone on the phone seem to be more distracting than talking to someone else in the car?
The only clue I have came from my late brother, who spent much of his adult life in radio. He really did have a face for television - he was the good-looking one in the family - but he preferred radio because it was a more intimate medium. The listeners got more drawn into it, because they had to make up a large part of it.
On TV, you know what colour the announcer's shirt is - on radio, you have to imagine it.
I wonder if that's true for cell phones as opposed to live in-car conversations?
I'm wondering if a phone call just uses up more of your brain cells than a live conversation, trying, among other things, to guess what colour shirt his conversee is wearing?
Not sure how you'd ever prove that, but the facts about driver distraction need no further proof.
I guess I should look at this as a glass-half-full situation.
It's just a crying shame Premier McGuinty doesn't have the guts to take this law to its logical conclusion.