Being a distracted driver is one of the riskiest moves you can make while you’re behind the wheel, and can come with some severe consequences. Statistics show that a distracted driver can fail to see up to 50% of their surrounding environment, are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision while texting and 4 times as likely while talking on the phone*. Distracted driving is on the rise and has become more fatal than impaired driving as the second leading cause of death in accidents in Alberta behind speeding.
Putting your phone down will not only help you to be a safer driver, but can also help your wallet. As of January 1, 2016 the fine for a distracted driving ticket in Alberta is $287 with three demerit points. According to Province of Alberta Traffic Safety Act, distracted driving includes but is not limited to:
- Holding or using a cellphone or other electronic device including cameras, music devices, video entertainment displays etc.
- Using a GPS while driving
- Reading or viewing printed material (i.e. a map or book)
- Personal grooming while driving
- Writing or printing while driving
Distracted driving also includes if you are stopped at a red light as your focus should still be on the road. By putting down the distractions you will be safer and more aware of your surroundings.
Perhaps the biggest culprit for distracted driving is your phone. The best way to stay safe is to put your phone down and not to touch it while you’re driving. Some tips to help you prevent in distracted driving can include
- Using a hands-free device if you need to take a call and keep the conversation short to keep your eyes on the road. (Even drivers using hands-free devices only are aware of about 50% of their surroundings when talking on the phone)
- Preprogram any GPS, music, or respond to any text messages before you get on the road
- If you need to take or make a phone call and can’t do it using a hands-free device, find somewhere safe to pull over and park to make the phone call