Police issuing tickets for distracted driving

At least 20 distracted drivers in Red Deer got an expensive reminder this month to pay attention while behind the wheel. RCMP Cpl. Kathe DeHeer said not all the $172 distracted driving fines issued since Sept. 1 have been counted.

At least 20 distracted drivers in Red Deer got an expensive reminder this month to pay attention while behind the wheel.

RCMP Cpl. Kathe DeHeer said not all the $172 distracted driving fines issued since Sept. 1 have been counted.

One officer was known to have handed out a handful of tickets but they haven’t yet been included in the tally, she said on Tuesday.

Alberta’s new distracted driving law prohibits drivers from operating hand-held cellphones to talk or text, using other electronic equipment like entering information into a GPS, personal grooming like applying makeup, or writing or reading.

DeHeer said police would rather see compliance than write tickets.

“There’s going to be a period of adjustment for people to get it through their heads that they can’t do that anymore so members have been educating people without writing tickets,” DeHeer said.

She expects September to be a slower month for issuing the tickets.

The law applies to all vehicles as defined by the Traffic Safety Act, including bicycles. Only emergency vehicles are exempt.

Drivers can be charged even if their driving performance appears unaffected. Even a driver holding a phone that is powered off can be charged.

DeHeer said for the most part people are supportive of the legislation and probably aren’t breaking the law on purpose. More likely they have forgotten the law is now in place.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com