Authorities warn against distracted driving

RCMP logo and police cars outside of Calgary on Friday, April 10, 2015. Mikaela MacKenzie/Calgary Herald Mikaela MacKenzie/Calgary Herald / Calgary Herald

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The City of Grande Prairie and Alberta RCMP are reminding drivers to put away their phones and keep their eyes on the road.

Drivers are restricted from using hand-held cell phones or other electronic devices, texting or e-mailing even when stopped at red lights, entering information on GPS units, reading printed materials, personal grooming or other activities such as writing, printing and sketching.

“Alberta Transportation indicates that driver distraction contributes to 20-30 per cent of all collisions and that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers,” the city said in a statement.

Those caught engaging in distracted driving within Alberta could receive a $287 fine and three demerit points.

The Traffic Safety Act also prohibits anything from occupying the front seat that could impair access to the vehicle’s controls or the safe operation of the vehicle.

“In situations where a driver becomes too involved with their pet, distracted driving law can apply,” the city said. “For everyone’s safety, pets should be secured when riding in the vehicle.”

Enforcement Services will also focus on disabled parking within Grande Prairie this month. A valid placard must be hung from the parked vehicle’s rear-view mirror. Otherwise, the driver may receive a fine of $250.

In 2018, Alberta RCMP Integrated Traffic Units issued 4,344 distracted driving tickets.

“The numbers are still too high,” said Supt. Gary Graham with Alberta RCMP Traffic Services in a statement. “Traffic safety is a shared responsibility. Distracted driving behaviours increase driver errors and, as a result, the likelihood of collisions. Distracted driving puts your safety and the safety of other road users at risk.”

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