Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools ... Just Look In The Mirror

So today's the big day. April 1st.

The day when Nova Scotians
  • become the first province in the country to ban outlaw smoking in motor vehicles when a child under the age of 18 is present;

  • can no long use cell phones while operating a motor vehicle unless the phone is hands-free; and

  • Nova Scotians living in the Annapolis Valley will be forced to switch from the traditional black or green garbage bag to clear bags.
Now, let's be clear on a few things. Personally, I don't smoke and I think that people who do smoke around their kids are crazy.

I'm all for highway safety.

And although I'm not quite going 'ga ga' over the effects of climate change and what not, I do believe that we have a stewardship, a duty and a moral obligation to do a lot better job of taking care of this planet than we traditionally have. Yes, we reduce, reuse and recycle. And I would say that about 90-95% of the time we get the recycling part right, with the occasional mistake here and there.

But I've already expressed my thoughts on the whole concept of outlawing smoking while children are present in a motor vehicle. On more than a few occasions, in fact. Quick recap -

But to me, its not the same thing as laws around smoke-free workplaces and government bans against smoking in public buildings. We have had a lot of that in this province recently and those are actually okay with me. I don't smoke and although we never use to have any problem with friends smoking in our home, since having children that has become a different story. Step outside, please.

But its one thing to have rules in government buildings, even in 'public places', its another to take that very intrusive step into a person's private vehicle. If you can go into their vehicle, what's to stop you from going into their home?

I mean, really, if a municipal government by-law can reach that far ... then why not?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I guess I have a problem with these new laws at two levels. First, given the context that smoking is legal, the laws appear, to me at least, to be illogical. And secondly, given that same context of legality, then yes, they are too intrusive. Make a decision. Get it right. And be consistent. Is that too much to ask?

Recycling. Like I said, I'm all for the concept. And I think that, as a province, we are doing a pretty good job.
There has been a 50% waste diversion in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia has reduced from more than 100 dumps and open-burning sites in the 1970's to 18 landfills, with only 9 expected to be operating by 2005.
100% of Nova Scotians have curbside recycling.
3000 jobs were created since April 1, 1996 through Nova Scotia's Solid Waste Management Strategy.
87% of households in Nova Scotia are within 20km of an Enviro-Depot (This is where bottles are returned for deposit refund).
80% of bottles are kept out of landfills because of their deposit return system.

It strikes me as a little heavy-handed and paternalistic to demand that all garbage now be placed in clear bags. Excuse me, all but one 'personal bag'. Thanks. Appreciate that. They had a good thing going here. I wonder if they've considered the possibility that if they irritate enough people with this latest move, they might just hurt the whole recycling program.

And then there's the cell phone issue. A lot of people are saying that the province's move isn't enough as research shows that even talking on a hands free cell phone is 'distracting'. Something tells me that will be the next to go. Well, I'm sorry, I don't care what the 'research' says, I fail to see how the simple of act of talking on the phone, as long as your hands aren't involved, is any more distracting than talking to the passenger in the next seat. Or thinking about a problem at work. Or brainstorming any other problem in your life. Or how it's different from any of those other times my mind, completely on its own initiative, goes on 'automatic pilot' while I am driving. How many of us haven't reached our destination at times and then realize that we have absolutely no memory of part of the drive? Automatic pilot. So shall we outlaw passengers in motor vehicles? How about if we hook up electrodes to drivers' heads ... we could always just 'zap' them if their thoughts stray from their driving, right?

How far can we realistically and logically go to protect ourselves and one another? How far should we go? In my opinion, it's highly fitting that these new changes are coming into effect today, on April Fools Day. Because I think we might just be coming very close to finding out where the line of absurdity lies.


PeterGunn said...

Hi Michelle,

Insurance companies have done research that shows that a person using a hand-held cell phone while driving a car is equal to driving under the influence.

I'm right there with you on bluetooth phone use, Michelle. You make valid points about having a conversation with a passenger in your car... or on the bluetooth equipped car/cell phone. Some "up-scale" bluetooth sets even allow voice command to dial a number or even a person by name.

Who knows, if we get more folks engaged in a conversation, the rate of ROAD RAGE may reduce!?

neardem said...

I agree with absolutely everything you have said - well written too. Life is going to be far too complicated and well, quite frankly I really get riled when I see 'children under 18' - you can't smoke in a car with 'children' under eighteen??? I'm glad I already lived my youth. So, what in fact is happening is that interest in the health of Nova Scotians has more to do with money being saved elsewhere.Insurance companies can minimize their losses, Health care might not spend as much as it does now ... hmmmmm Interesting post.

MMC said...

Thanks guys.
I had a point I was trying to make with this post but when I finished it and reread it, I wasn't so sure I had. But perhaps ... just perhaps, I did.

BTW neardem, my mistake, that should have read "children under 19". Yeah, I know ...