Cleaning up the roads

Drunk and distracted drivers should get off the road because RCMP will be out looking for them tonight and in the coming days, the head of Red Deer’s RCMP traffic section says.

Drunk and distracted drivers should get off the road because RCMP will be out looking for them tonight and in the coming days, the head of Red Deer’s RCMP traffic section says.

Sgt. Bob Bell said on Thursday that police will conduct Check Stops tonight in the city, beginning a series of stops through the fall and into the new year.

Bell says Red Deer drivers, for the most part, have been receptive to the message about distracted driving.

Since the legislation’s fine were launched on Sept. 1, traffic officers have handed out some tickets to drivers who were preoccupied with making cellphone calls or texting messages.

“I don’t have exact numbers so far but there’s been a few handed out,” Bell said shortly after plotting his Check Stop schedule in the city through until 2012.

“People have been pretty well informed and we’ve had pretty good compliance, which is good.”

The distracted driving fine is $172 but no demerit points are issued.

Bell said it might take a while for some people to stop texting and phoning while driving. “It’s like a bad habit that’s hard to break.”

Police are also gearing up for seatbelt month in October.

“School zones are being watched more closely now too, since the school year started this week,” he added.

Tonight’s Check Stop will be worked in conjunction with the RCMP, partners including the Alberta Sheriff’s Department.

“On our last stop on Aug. 26, we caught a fellow who tried to run through without stopping.

“The driver was charged with dangerous driving because he almost ran two officers over. We chased him down and he also had a bunch of marijuana in the car and was suspected of being impaired.

“He was also charged with violating his night curfew,” Bell added.

The officer also mentioned there have been a few problems lately with graduated drivers.

He said a driver with such a licence can’t be caught with any liquor in their system. It doesn’t matter if they’re over the legal limit or not.

On the Labour Day weekend, Alberta RCMP and sheriffs handed out more than 3,700 tickets, including 29 for distracted driving violations and 2,834 for speeding.

In Lacombe, city officials have joined forces with Lacombe Police Services in handing out thumb bands to students at the Lacombe Composite High School and Lacombe Junior High School.

The tags were issued on Thursday morning and are available through Lacombe Victim Services.

City of Lacombe spokesman Deven Kumar said a person talking on a cellphone is four times more likely to crash while a driver is 23 times more likely to crash when texting.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com