by Morinville News Staff
Although the Victoria Day long weekend marks the start of road trip season for many, the RCMP is reminding Albertans this year is different.
Although there is less traffic on Alberta’s roads due to COVID-19 restrictions, police say impaired driving, distracted driving and speeding remain a problem across throughout the province.
Data from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation indicates speed is a factor in 800 fatalities and 3,000 serious injuries every year in Canada. Data from Transport Canada indicates distracted driving was a factor in 21 per cent of all fatal collisions and 27 per cent of collisions resulting in serious injury in 2016.
The RCMP says this year’s Canada Road Safety Week (May 12-18) theme is called Shifting Gears and is focused on shifting driver behaviour surrounding drug and alcohol impairment, driver distractions and speeding.
“As our province begins to consider reopening, some drivers over the May long weekend may be tempted to relax their attitudes around driving rules, physical distancing and public health orders,” said Alberta RCMP Traffic Services Superintendent Gary Graham. “There is zero tolerance for unsafe driving behaviours amidst the pandemic. As always, our Traffic Services members will be on the road promoting safe driving spaces and enforcing laws to help all motorists stay safe while travelling. Changing dangerous habits such as speeding, impaired and distracted driving starts with thinking differently and ‘shifting gears’ about these problematic behaviours.”
But drivers are not the only concern this long weekend. Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is calling on Albertans to practice social distancing.
“Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy recognizes the importance of the outdoors and recreation for Albertans’ sense of well-being while also recommending limiting non-essential travel at this time,” Hinshaw said. “This long weekend, I am asking Albertans to practise physical distancing and avoid gathering in groups. If visiting summer cottages, respect the health and safety of small communities by planning your trip without stops for gas or food. When outdoors or in public, take all the necessary precautions to protect your health and the health of those around you. Please enjoy the weekend and stay socially connected, but do so as safely and responsibly as possible.”