by Morinville News Staff
Alberta RCMP are reminding young drivers travelling on provincial roads and highways to exercise caution and avoid distractions. Police say July can be a dangerous one for motorists, especially young drivers who are most involved in fatal collisions during this month.
“The message is simple, distracted driving is extremely dangerous. It puts you and everyone else on the road at greater risk of being involved in a collision,” said Superintendent Rick Gardner, Alberta Traffic Sheriffs. “Drivers need to keep their eyes on the road and off the phones.”
Albera Transportation statistics show that in 2015, young drivers represented 14 per cent of the province’s registered drivers, but represented more than 20 per cent of the drivers involved in casualty collisions. Police say distracted driving is one of the leading factors for the high rate of collisions among youth.
Integrated Traffic Units (ITUs) held an Option 4 session to raise awareness of the devastating consequences of distracted driving this past June. The 21 participants had been previously pulled over for distracted driving. They had the option of dealing with the ticket in the normal way or by attending an Option 4 session.
Participants heard a firsthand account of dangers associated with using a cell phone behind the wheel during the session. Melody Battle, a former distracted driver, told participants how her decision to send her boss a text message to notify him she was running late resulted in her hitting the back of a road grader at 100 km/h. The collision caused Melody serious injuries that landed her a nine-month stay in the hospital. Today, Melody uses her experience to teach other young drivers about the consequences that come with taking your eyes off the road, even for a quick second.
“Distracted driving can be as dangerous as impaired driving. Officers from the ITUs are always watching for distracted drivers, and we’ve seen everything from the obvious cell phones, to reading a book, to shaving, to holding a bowl of soup with one hand and eating it with a spoon in the other, all while driving,” said RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull. “Things around you can change in the blink of an eye; please pay attention.”
The extra attention is needed, police say, given one in five new drivers is involved in a collision during their first two years of driving, and fatal collisions involving a young driver occur most often in September and July.
Additionally, police say distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers.