Don’t drive distracted

Distractions while driving can contribute to a fatality

Photo submitted.

Do you put on makeup at a red light or text while you’re driving? Driving while distracted is becoming enough of a concern that the month of February was dubbed Distracted Driving Month.

Although statistics from Alberta Transportation show the number of distracted driving convictions has gone down about 10 percent from 2015 to 2017, last year over 20,000 people were fined $287 and given three demerit points.

A recent advertising campaign from Alberta Transportation focuses on teenagers with one titled “Put urself before selfies” showing four young women getting ready to go out and ending in them nearly getting hit by another car while they try to take a selfie together.

The other one focuses on both friends and food:

According to the Alberta Transportation website, distracted driving includes:

  • using hand-held cell phones
  • texting or e-mailing (even when stopped at red lights)
  • using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
  • entering information on GPS units
  • reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • writing, printing or sketching
  • personal grooming (brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving)

According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation website “Despite increasing fines and penalties for distracted driving, nearly one in four fatal crashes in 2013 involved distraction.”

Police stress this is a big safety issue. Supt. Gary Graham, officer in charge of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services spoke to the real danger of distracted driving saying, “As a driver, you play a large part in ensuring our roads are safe.”

He stresses the importance of putting your cell phone away and focusing on the road.

“The message, then, is very simple: don’t increase your chance of being involved in a collision.”

Ninety seven per cent of over 130,000 convictions since distracted driving legislation was introduced were for using a hand-held electronic device such as a cell phone while driving. Brian Mason, minister of transportation has the final word:

“Distracted driving is dangerous at any time. Drivers need to be aware of all traffic around them, including other vehicles and vulnerable road users. Please focus on driving ­– and driving, alone.”

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