by Morinville News Staff

Wednesday kicked off Distracted Driving Month in Alberta, an action defined as “any activity, event or object that diverts the driver’s attention away from the road.”

“Just because someone has used a cell phone while driving and never had a problem before doesn’t mean the risks aren’t there,” said Inspector Steve Daley, Acting Officer-in-Charge of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services in a release Wednesday. “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,”

Despite offering tips including only using cellphones when vehicles are parked, and setting temperatures and radios before leaving, some Albertans seem to be missing the message. Alberta’s Integrated Traffic Units issued 6,051 distracted driving tickets in 2016 and are cautioning people to keep their focus on the road.

The current penalty for distracted driving is a $287 fine and three demerit points; however, distracted drivers that exhibit more serious or risky behaviors could receive an additional ‘driving carelessly’ ticket, which carries six demerits and a $402 fine.

Police cite 2013 Alberta Transportation statistics to show distracted driving is the cause of 20 to 30 per cent of collisions.

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