Driving dangers detailed

Cpl. Al Nickolson knows the dangers distracted drivers in Alberta present to motorist safety.

Don Szarko speaks on distracted drivers at the Safe Communities Central Alberta's Luncheon at the Michener Recreation Centre

Don Szarko speaks on distracted drivers at the Safe Communities Central Alberta's Luncheon at the Michener Recreation Centre

Cpl. Al Nickolson knows the dangers distracted drivers in Alberta present to motorist safety.

Patrolling the QE2 between Red Deer and Didsbury, the veteran officer with the Innisfail Integrated Traffic Services unit sees astonishingly careless behaviour behind the wheel on a weekly-basis.

“I’ve was on the highway, heading to a collision scene, I’ve got my lights and sirens on and the guy in front of me is staying in his lane,” Nickolson said at the Safe Communities Central Alberta luncheon on Wednesday afternoon.

“When I finally get by him I can see he’s on his cellphone, he’s off in another world.”

Nickolson was at the event to address questions regarding the enforcement of Bill 16, a distracted driving law set to take effect in Alberta in the fall.

He also told some tales of the bad driving habits he’s witnessed on the job, such as “driving by braille,” as he calls it.

“Driving by braille is when you see people coasting left and right in their lane, slowing down and speeding up, and what’s going on is they’re relying on the rumble strips to help them drive a straight line while they’re texting,” Nickolson said.

Bill 16 will allow Alberta law enforcement officers to issue a $172 fine to distracted drivers, and the legislation will extend beyond the use of hand-held cellphones to any behaviour the officer deems distracting while driving — personal grooming, texting, reading maps or newspapers, or entering information into a GPS or MP3 device.

Nickolson said the new legislation will be easier to enforce than the current recourse of charging a driver with careless driving — a $402 fine and six demerits off the driver’s license — which requires the officer to look into the offender’s driving record for a pattern of recklessness.

Don Szarko from the AMA in Edmonton spoke at Wednesday’s event and said the legislation is a great first step in preventing collisions on Alberta’s roads; and motorists will be given plenty of warning about the new distracted driving law.

The AMA has already begun to distribute information on Bill 16 via print and Internet campaigns announcing “The Law is Coming,” he said.

“The earliest we’re going to see legislation passed is probably September or fall sometime,” Szarko said.

“I think the Province wants to give people the opportunity to understand the law.”

Szarko said polls conducted by the AMA suggest 74 per cent of Albertans are in favour banning cellphone use behind the wheel, and 65 per cent believe the law should be extended to cover all other forms of distracted driving.

“The government has pretty strong support for this legislation, we’re on pretty solid ground,” Szarko said.

He added public opinion surveys conducted in Alberta found drivers ranked personal grooming, eating, texting, and reading maps while driving as more dangerous than hand-held cell phone use.

“We all know what’s wrong, but we’ll do it until someone tells us it’s against the law,” Szarko said.

“Maybe we’ll get some ah-ha moments, Albertans spend a lot of time behind the wheel.

Richard Hornby, Safe Communities Central Alberta’s executive director said distracted driving has been a concern for his organization’s members for some time now, and Bill 16 can only make Red Deer’s roads safer.

“Whether you’re distracted, or drinking, or sleep deprived, you need to get off the road,” Hornby said.

Hornby said he hopes the new distracted driving law will be a catalyst, shifting “the culture, which currently doesn’t exist in Alberta, that says you wouldn’t even think of picking up your cellphone behind the wheel.”

Morgan Anthony with Students for Cellphone-Free Driving, said Bill 16 is important in preventing the estimated 100 deaths attributed to distracted driving in Alberta, each year; but also hopes legislation will eventually ban the use hands-free and Bluetooth devices behind the wheel.

“Studies have shown they are just as dangerous as hand-held cellphone use while driving,” Anthony said.

“We’d need to get rid of all cellphone use and distractions while driving.”

syoung@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A GoFundMe campaign to support a Stettler couple following a fire has raised more than $3,000. (Contributed photo)
Family pet dies in Stettler fire

GoFundMe page has raised more than $3K so far

Canada's Alexis Lafreniere celebrates after defeating Russia 4-3 in the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships, Sunday, January 5, 2020 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
As Alberta’s COVID-19 cases rise, so does tension over world junior championship

Alberta’s spike in COVID-19 infections and the virus’s infiltration of Canada’s team… Continue reading

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Carolina De La Torre, right, owner of Arepas Ranch in Calgary, poses for a photo with her husband in this undated handout photo. The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney's argument not to lockdown restaurants in the province remembers her encounter with the premier as a lot less dramatic than he suggested. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Carolina De La Torre *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

EDMONTON — The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part… Continue reading

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani waves to the crowd in a public gathering at the city of Yazd, some 410 miles (680 kilometers) southeast of the capital Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. Iran has discovered a new oil field in the country’s south with over 50 billion barrels of crude oil, Rouhani said Sunday, a find that could boost the country’s proven reserves by a third as it struggles to sell energy abroad over U.S. sanctions. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)
Iran nuclear scientist assassinated

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian scientist that… Continue reading

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

kkk
Opinion: We’re weary of the wait for COVID vaccine

It’s official: vaccines are the new toilet paper. Justin Trudeau appears to… Continue reading

Actor Johnny Flynn portrays David Bowie in the film "Stardust" in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Elevation Pictures *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Stardust’ is a Bowie pic without his music but that was always the plan: director

TORONTO — Gabriel Range’s controversial David Bowie drama “Stardust” has angered fans… Continue reading

Canadian figure skating champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir come to Penticton Oct. 6 with the Rock the Rink tour. This will be the pair’s last tour as they have announced they are retiring from the world of competitive figure skating. (Contributed)
Ice-dancers Moir and Virtue among 114 Order of Canada inductees

OTTAWA — Champion ice-dancers Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue are among 114… Continue reading

Mahomes vs. Brady spices up Thanksgiving holiday week

Mahomes vs. Brady spices up Thanksgiving holiday week

Cowboys miss chance for NFC East lead with another home loss

Cowboys miss chance for NFC East lead with another home loss

Arsenal, Leicester, Hoffenheim advance in Europa League

Arsenal, Leicester, Hoffenheim advance in Europa League

Keegan Messing performs during the Men's Short program at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. If the world figure skating championships do go ahead in a bubble in March in Sweden, there is a good chance Canada won't be there. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canada might not compete at world figure skating championships – if they happen

Canada might not compete at world figure skating championships - if they happen

Most Read