Things happen for a reason! Don’t you agree? I have always believed it and now know it’s true.
I was on my way to a client meeting. I had jotted down the address before I left and used my GPS to find out how to get there. My GPS asked me if the street name was a road, crescent or court. I didn’t know the answer. What concerned me was there were two different postal codes. I was afraid I might be driving the wrong way. So I picked the choice for road and hoped for the best.
Stopped at a red light, I picked up my phone and started to look to see if I made the right choice by picking the ‘road’ option. The light turned green and I put my phone down and drove. As I passed through the intersection, I noticed in my rear view mirror an unmarked police car had their lights on. Being the good citizen I am, I pulled over for the police to go by me to catch the bad guys.
Instead of whizzing by me, the police car pulled in behind me. Still not knowing what happened, the police officer walked to the front of my car and then we started talking.
Officer: “You were using your phone,”
Me: “I was at a stop light.”
Officer: “I know.”
Me: “I wasn’t driving and using it. I had to find out directions to where I was going.”
Officer: “Don’t care.”
Me: “But I was at a stop sign, not driving.”
Officer: “Same reason you can’t drink beer at a stop sign.”
Me: “But you can’t drink beer and drive?”
Officer: “Exactly. You can’t use your phone and drive too.”
The police officer eventually handed me a ticket and walked away. Not even “Have a nice day”, “Sorry about your luck”, “Bye”, or even “Ms. Grigg, here is your ticket.”
There I was, looking down at my ticket in disbelief. Shocked at the amount of the fine — $280! Can you believe it?
For those who do not know, I live in the Province of Ontario and there is a law that bans hand-held devices while driving. A few weeks before my fine, this law started to be strongly enforced. I always thought this law was meant for those people who text and drive. I am not one of those people. My friends all know I only used my phone at stop lights.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website, the law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. The law also prohibits drivers from viewing display screens unrelated to the driving task, such as laptops or DVD players, while driving. The use of hands-free devices is still permitted, and drivers may use hand-held devices to call 9-1-1.
‘Hands-free’ use means that apart from activating or deactivating the device, it is not held during use and the driver is not physically interacting with or manipulating it. Actions such as dialing or scrolling through contacts, or manually programming a GPS device, for example, are not allowed.
Had I been looking for the same information on a piece of paper at the red light, it wouldn’t be against the law, but because I was my checking my phone for directions (after all, we do live in a digital world now), I broke the law.
I strongly believe things happen for a reason, and I believe I was meant to receive a ticket from the police officer that day.
The reason why – so I can let others know that you cannot use your phone or other hand held device while driving. And yes that means looking at your phone while sitting at a red light. Have I done it since? No. I have thought about it, but I am scared to. What if another unmarked police officer catches me? I don’t want another $280 fine.
When this happened, I made a comment on Facebook and there were 55 comments made and 8 people liked it. By me putting it on Facebook, I have not told just one person, I was able to tell many people at once. Just like I’m writing here, I’m telling more people.
But why I was meant to tell people is because I have had a few people come up to me and told me it has stopped them from using their phones while driving. Perhaps I saved a life or two.