Stop the texts, and you’ll stop the wrecks, government says

by Morinville News Staff

A week into Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the government is once again urging Albertans to stop texting behind the wheel.

The province offered research that indicates between 20 and 30 per cent of all collisions are due to distracted driving. The government also says distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers.

The penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is $287 and three demerit points. Despite the fine and loss of points, people seem to be taking the chance.

Distracted driving infractions were up year over year since 2011, except for a small drop in 2015-2016.

For the first part year – September to March 2011-12, there were 8,345 infractions. That increased to 25,958 in 2012-13, the first full year. The government year 2013-14 saw 25,913 convictions, and 2014-15 saw 27,417. Last year – 2015-16 saw a minimum drop to 27,281.

“We all play a role in reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads,” said Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation. “By keeping our attention on the road, we can help ensure everyone returns home safely, each and every day. Please wait until you’ve pulled off the road and respond to a text only when it is safe.”

Inspector Steve Daley, Acting OIC Traffic Services, Alberta RCMP, K Division, said just because people have never had an accident while distracted driving doesn’t mean they won’t.

“Just because someone has used a cellphone 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,” Daley said.

Alberta’s distracted driving law restricts drivers from using hand-held cellphones, texting or e-mailing even when stopped at a red light, using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays, and programming portable audio players. Other forbidden activities under the law include entering information on GPS units, reading printed materials in the vehicle, writing, printing or sketching, and personal grooming.

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