Gateway Gazette

On the Road, Distractions can be Deadly

Alberta’s Office of Traffic Safety urges young drivers to focus on the road, and only the road, when driving.

OTS-Distracted-Driving-Billboard-Proof_Page_1Between 2009 and 2013, 206 drivers aged 14 to 24 were killed and 12,421 were injured in collisions. Although young drivers represent 14 per cent of the province’s licensed drivers, they account for more than 20 per cent of casualty collisions.

“As a former professional driver, I have seen many different issues on the roads and was fortunate not to have had to deal with the levels of distraction we have today with electronic devices and cellphones. Distraction now accounts for between 20 and 30 per cent of crashes and that’s a number we need to see come down.”

~ Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation

“Distracted driving by youth is a leading factor for collisions on our highways. Drivers don’t realize that when they take their eyes off the road for just five seconds driving 100 km/h their vehicle can travel the distance of a football field. The fine for distracted driving is $287 but the cost is far higher if you are involved in a collision as a result of being distracted.”

~ Rick Gardner, Deputy Director, Alberta Sheriffs Traffic Operations

Alberta Transportation is launching a campaign to reinforce the need for young drivers to focus on safe driving. The campaign centres on two videos that will run prior to the trailers on more than 300 movie screen across the province.

Young Driver Facts

  • More than one-half of casualty collisions involving a young driver (aged 14 to 24) occurred in the months of May through October. Fatal collisions involving a young driver occur most often in September.
  • More casualty collisions involving young drivers occurred on Friday than on any other day. In all, almost half of the fatal collisions involving young drivers occurred on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
  • Approximately one-third of casualty collisions involving a young driver occurred during the afternoon rush hour period between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Another third of fatal collisions involving a young driver occurred between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Young drivers are more likely to commit a driver error than other drivers. The most common errors include following too closely, running off the road, making a left turn across the path of an oncoming vehicle and crossing the centre line.
  • One-third of young drivers killed in a collision were not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is a program designed to improve road safety by creating a low-risk, controlled environment for new drivers, regardless of age. The GDL program ensures that new drivers get the support, skills and experience they need to handle the complex task of driving.

Alberta’s distracted driving law restricts drivers from:

  • using hand-held cellphones
  • texting or e-mailing (even when stopped at a red light)
  • using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays, and programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
  • entering information on GPS units
  • reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • writing, printing or sketching
  • personal grooming

The fine for distracted driving increased to $287 from $172 on May 1, 2015.

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