February is Distracted Driving Month in Alberta. Distracted driving is defined as any activity, event or object that diverts the driver's attention away from the road. In 2016, the Integrated Traffic Units in Alberta issued 6,051 distracted driving tickets.
"Just because someone has used a cell phone while driving and never had a problem before doesn't mean the risks aren't there. Distracted driving has a devastating effect on families. We are asking everyone to do their part and put the phone away while driving to ensure road safety," said Inspector Steve Daley, Acting Officer-in-Charge of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services.
Below are safety tips to combat distracted driving.
- Put your phone away. Use your cellphone only when your vehicle is parked in a safe place.
- Pull over. If you need to attend to kids or pets in the vehicle, find a safe spot to park before doing so.
- Set the temperature, mp3 players, radio, CD player or the GPS unit prior to leaving. You should make adjustments only when the vehicle is stopped.
- Make sure children are comfortable and properly buckled up before leaving. Prepare safe activities for the trip so they don't get restless.
- Know the itinerary before leaving. Do not attempt to read a map while driving.
- Finish grooming before leaving home. Do not comb your hair, shave or apply make-up while driving.
- Do not read while driving. Put newspapers and other reading materials out of sight and out of reach so you won't be tempted.
- Ensure that there are no items in the vehicle that will slide around or tip over while the vehicle is in motion.
- In Alberta, the penalty for distracted driving is a $287 fine and three demerits.
- Drivers that exhibit what is deemed to be more serious or risky behaviors could be charged with 'driving carelessly' under the Traffic Safety Act. The penalty for 'driving carelessly' carries six demerits and a fine of $543.
- Research indicates that driver distraction contributes to 20 to 30 per cent of all collisions. (Alberta Transportation 2013)
- Distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers. (Alberta Transportation 2013)
- A study of collisions involving distracted drivers found that the most common distractions were things outside the vehicle, adjusting music, other occupants and moving objects in the vehicle. (Alberta Transportation 2013)
- A vehicle going 50 km/h travels about 13.9 meters (45 feet) in one second. One second is enough to be distracted, leading to a collision. (Alberta Transportation 2013)
- There were 27,281 convictions in Alberta from April 2015 to March 2016 for distracted driving. (Alberta Transportation)
Traffic safety is a shared responsibility. We can all do our part to ensure our own safety and that of others by keeping our eyes on the road.