Police say texts can wait while driving

by Morinville News Staff

Almost a week into distracted driving awareness month, RCMP are urging Albertans not to get caught up in the feeling that we should be multitasking every moment of the day, particularly when behind the wheel.

The Alberta RCMP are reminding drivers that any task that feels urgent when driving, aside from the task of driving itself, can and should wait.

RCMP cite the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety data that says a driver is eight times more likely to get into a motor vehicle accident when texting, four times more likely when talking on their phone, even when using a hands-free device.

“The consequences of distracted driving can be devastating. It might seem like you have an urgent reason to divert your attention from the roads but, in reality, whatever it is should wait until you can pull over or stop in a safe location,” said Superintendent Gary Graham, Officer-in-Charge, Alberta RCMP Traffic Services. “There is nothing more important than ensuring the safety of yourself, your passengers and others on the roads.”

Integrated Traffic Units issued 7,611 distracted driving tickets in Alberta RCMP jurisdictions in 2017. It is a number police say has been steadily increasing since 2012, with the sole exception of 2016. So far in 2018, 147 distracted driving charges have already been issued.

RCMP offer the following tips to avoid driving distracted:

· 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 at 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.

The penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is $287 and three demerit points.

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