Fredericton — Starting Sept. 1, the provincial government is going to try to teach old dogs some new tricks. Since 2011, a ban on distracted driving has been in effect, prohibiting the use of cellular phones and other handheld devices while driving. Now, the Department of Public Safety is enhancing those rules to also prohibit unrestrained dogs, cats or other pets while operating a motor vehicle.
“I admit we’ve had mixed results with the existing cellphone ban,” said Public Safety Minister Stephen Horsman. “We know many drivers still operate their phone while in traffic, and some even text and drive despite how extremely dangerous it is. We are taking this opportunity to revisit the legislation to target some additional risky behaviours that affect a driver’s focus. Near the top of the list is addressing the issue of people driving with pets in their laps or roaming free around the vehicle.”
Starting Sept. 1, all dogs, cats or any other pet must wear a seatbelt while riding in a motor vehicle in motion or be confined to a carrier, crate or cage. Violations will be punishable by a fine of $172.50 for the first offence, $550 for the second and escalating up to $1,100 as well as a 60-day licence suspension for the third offence. This law is applicable to any animal travelling in a motor vehicle at any speed on every public road, street or highway.
“I’m not sure how Molly will handle it,” said Rothesay resident Marjorie Herbert. “She likes to be with me on my lap, or she gets really nervous. She also likes to stick her head out my window and have me scratch her belly. I don’t see the danger, frankly. If I tried to seatbelt or crate her, she’d probably fuss and whine which would be very distracting while I’m trying to drive.”
The Department of Public Safety is also introducing other amendments to the distracted driving portions of the Motor Vehicle Act, including the following:
- Despite conventional wisdom, if one is driving fast they must not also be furious;
- Incidences of road rage are illegal except in circumstances where you are totally in the right, and the other person is driving like a total moron and/or douchebag;
- Eating messy food while driving will be explicitly forbidden, including but not limited to the following: submarine sandwiches, barbeque chicken wings, ribs, lobster (unshelled), chili fries, spaghetti and meatballs, sloppy joes, or any use of chopsticks as utensils;
- Cars may only operate a “turbo boost” if they have a sentient on-board computer sidekick from Knight Industries;
- Motor vehicles must not transform into heroic alien robots while in the flow of traffic, even if a Decepticon is present;
- DeLoreans operating a flux capacitor must travel slower than 88 mph at all times;
- Operating a motor vehicle without looking at the road for a period greater than 30 seconds is not explicitly forbidden, but is strongly frowned upon.
Horsman hopes that this crackdown on distracted driving helps send a clear message to the motoring public. “We have learned that we need to be very clear with the public, or they will try to find loopholes to continue to drive hazardously. This legislation… oh crap, I dropped my Bluetooth. I’m just going to try to find it. Damn, it’s under the seat. Hello? Hello?”