I did my annual presentation to the Canadian Automotive Institute students at Georgian College in Barrie yesterday.
I just gab on about the state of the industry, their prospects for a career,
advice-from-the-graybeards sort of thing.
CAI is pretty much the place to go if you're interested in a career in the automotive business in this country.
Founded in 1985, it was initially the school of choice mainly for sons and daughters of car dealership owners to learn how to manage the family business.
There are still quite a few 'dealership' kids there, but the student body is remarkably diverse, in age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and life experience.
One thing they have in common is a love of cars and a desire to work in the business. Based on the intelligence, enthusiasm and engagement I see there every year, that is a good omen.
One disturbing tidbit came up in the post-presentation free pizza lunch session. The most enthusiastic students (or maybe the ones who either have all their homework done or are skipping classes...) stick around and we chat for another hour or so. Two of the most entertaining and interesting young men were talking about the ban on hand-held cell phones. One mentioned that 'texting' per se was not included in this ban (is that true?) while the other noted that when he texted (is that a verb?) he always held the device up at arm's length over the steering wheel so it remained in his line of sight.
I hope they saw the distraught and disgusted look on my face.
Here are a couple of the brightest hopes for the future of the industry in Canada - in a more general sense, for the future of our country. And they see no problem in texting while driving.
Well, they DO see a problem - they know it isn't the right thing to do.
But they do it anyway.
It brought back to mind what Larry Burns, vice president for Research and Development at General Motors said at a dinner at this past January's Detroit Auto Show: "Young people don't see their personal communications interfering with their driving; they see it as driving interfering with their personal communications."
Is that the modern definition of 'generation gap' or what?
I don't know if any law can top that.
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador was the first in Canada (2003) to ban hand-held cell phones, subsequently joined by Nova Scotia, Quebec, and now Ontario. Newfoundland and Labrador's government research suggests the ban has been successful - "distracted driving" as a cause of crashes was down 23 percent in the three years following the ban, according (of course) to the government which instituted the ban.
Studies in jurisdictions in the US however indicate that such drops are temporary, and that as soon as the initial advertising and enforcement blitzes die down, cell phone use rises Phoenix-like to pre-ban levels.
Can Ontario expect to do any better?