Saint John — What’s black and white and taken seriously by almost no one? You guessed it — New Brunswick’s cellphone ban while driving.
And, New Brunswick’s minister of Public Safety is finally admitting the law was never intended to be enforced. The panned ban was actually a practical joke on the province’s police that just got out of hand.
“This was all news to me, I never suspected it,” said current Minister Carl Urquhart. “After we took over last year, I was heading to Fredericton one day and every single person in the other lane was using their phone. When I got to the office, I asked why no one was enforcing this law. The staff just looked at each other and busted out laughing! I guess the joke was on me.”
The ban — enacted back in 2011 when the iPhone 4 was the latest technology — started as a practical joke on the New Brunswick Police Association president by then-Public Safety minister Robert Trevors.
“Trevors and the president of the NBPA were always pranking each other,” recalls staffer Jessica Pomme. “The NBPA prez made Bob’s desk drawer into a fish aquarium, and then Bob covered a patrol car completely with sticky notes. Then Bob’s office was filled with water balloons, and he retaliated with a ‘glitter-bomb.’ It was bound to get out of hand.
“One night after a few cocktails Bob texted him, ‘Hey, we’re going to ban all cellphone use while driving! Ha ha, have fun enforcing that!’ But we didn’t expect it to leak to the media, and when it hit the front page everyone took it super-seriously. Eventually, it snowballed and ended up becoming a law, and there was a hush-hush agreement to just ignore it. Eight years later, it’s like no one even remembers it’s actually illegal to use your cellphone while driving.”
When contacted for confirmation, NBPA president Roger Flics just smiled and winked. “We’ve worked out a number of… ahem, ‘informal exceptions,'” he explained.
“For example, if you put it in your lap and glance at it all secretively like no one can tell what you’re doing, that’s cool. Also, if you’re actually using your human mouth-hole to speak to someone instead of texting them, that’s so rare that it’s not really a problem.
“Finally, if it’s just totally evident that you don’t really give a shit about that law, count us in.”