THE WEEK — June 6: The new killer: crotches

The new killer: crotches; and a peek into Anney's Closet

You aren’t fooling anyone by staring at your crotch while driving, say police, but that glance could be fatal.

The new killer: crotches

There might be plenty to stare at between your legs, but driving isn’t the time to do it, says the Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission. Besides, you’re not really fooling anyone.

“Crotches Kill” is the catch phrase launched through a new awareness campaign by the commission, in an effort to reduce the number of deaths, injuries and crashes caused by drivers who are sending or reading texts from smartphones placed in their laps.

Anti-texting campaigns have increased around the Canada and the U.S. this past month, with recent news of a young Colorado man who died when he was distracted by his phone, drifting into oncoming traffic and rolling his car off the road. Parents of 22-year-old Alexander Heit released the chilling last text their son left, unsent, on his phone, as a way to strike home an important message about how unimportant these messages are. Heit’s last words: “Sounds good my man, seeya soon, I’ll tw”.

Back in the CRD, studies indicate that drivers who are reading or sending texts are 23 times more likely to cause a crash than non-distracted drivers, hence the region’s poignant call for less crotch time.

“Everyone who sees you looking at your crotch knows exactly what you’re doing, and it’s stupidly dangerous,” says Sgt. Frank Wright, head of the CRD’s Integrated Road Safety Unit.

Despite the fact that driving intexticated will net you a $167 fine, plus three ICBC penalty points, studies have reported that one in five drivers of all ages confessed to surfing the web while driving, and those who texted while driving had the following justifications: some would only read (not write) texts, some reported holding their phone near the windshield “for better visibility,” some increased their following distance, while others only texted at a stop sign or red light. And, 77 per cent of young adults report they are very or somewhat confident they can safely text while driving, while 55 per cent said it was “easy” to perform both tasks at once.

However, a reported five seconds is the minimal amount of time a driver’s attention is taken away from the road while texting — at 80 kilometres an hour, this would equal driving the length of a football field without looking at the road.

“Instead of putting away their smartphones because they know it’s illegal to use them while driving, many drivers have taken to placing them out of sight in their crotch,” says commission chair Chris Foord. “But that’s even more dangerous, because now they’re looking down for several seconds at a time to read or send a text.”

That briefly distracted driving time claims the lives of 94 people each year in B.C., and injures hundreds more. These crashes, which the commission says are commonly caused by missed traffic light changes, unnoticed vehicles or missed cyclists or pedestrians in the driver’s path, are all entirely preventable.

The campaign, which includes TV and radio ads, urges crotch-texting drivers to “wise up, and eyes up,” and to reduce the temptation by putting smartphones out of reach when driving. See these messages (when you’re not driving) at sdrv.ms/17MD7mv.

Mind if I peek in your closet?

Young women starting out on their own will have more than their big sister’s closet to raid, thanks to a new initiative by the Soroptimist International of Victoria Westshore (SIVW).

Anney’s Closet, run as a free store out of a permanent storage locker in the West Shore, will assist young women in need by providing them with free household items and furniture. Unlike anything else currently available to potentially at-risk young women and new mothers in Victoria, Anney’s Closet will offer goods to those referred from partner social service agencies. Women will have the opportunity to select items that will help to transform their apartments into functional and comfortable homes, and the group aims to provide rocking chairs for all new mothers to help facilitate the early stages of development and mother-baby bonding.

The project was nicknamed after Anney Ardiel, a professional downsizer for seniors.  Using household items donated by elderly clients as well as other donors, Anney’s Closet will celebrate its grand opening Sat., June 8, 10am-2pm at West Shore U-LOCK Mini-storage (1621 Island Hwy). All are welcome to see the closet and enjoy music and refreshments. Learn more at: AnneysCloset.com. M

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