Behind the Wheel: Distracted driving rules tougher for novice drivers

The holder of a class 7L (learner) or Class 7 (novice) driver's licence must not use an electronic device while driving, period

Can we all agree that driving while distracted is a bad thing? Probably. Would we also consider that this would be more important for an inexperienced driver than a practiced one? Very likely. Did you know that our laws concerning the use of electronic devices while driving actually reflect this thought? Surprise!

The holder of a class 7L (learner) or Class 7 (novice) driver’s licence must not use an electronic device while driving, period. No telephone calls, texting, iPods, GPS maps or adjustments, mobile radio conversations, computers or televisions. The only way for a GLP (graduated licensing program) driver to use one of these legally is to be parked properly or making a call to emergency services about an emergency. This does reflect more restriction than the rules that apply to holders of a full privilege class of driver’s licence.

Remember that the word ‘use’ means holding it in your hand in a position that would allow its use, actually operating one of the device’s functions, watching the screen of an electronic device or communicating orally with it.

Oddly enough, the same thing does not apply to a Class 8L (motorcycle learner) or Class 8 (motorcycle novice) driver’s licence holder. They must obey the same rules as the driver with a full privilege driver’s licence. Perhaps the lawmakers felt that these GLP drivers would not use electronic devices because of the nature of the vehicle. If this is the case, they are not correct.

For more information about this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.

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