Distracted driving is defined as the diversion of attention from driving as a result of the driver focusing on a non-driving object, activity, event or person. This diversion reduces awareness, decision-making or performance leading to increased risk of driver error and collisions.
Facts to Know
· Research indicates that driver distraction contributes to 20 to 30 per cent of all collisions.
· Distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers.
· A study of collisions involving distracted drivers found reaching for a moving object in the vehicle increased the risk of a collision or near collision by nine times; insects in the vehicle increased the risk by a factor of six; reading, applying make-up, and dialing a hand-held device tripled the odds, and listening and talking on a handheld device increased the risk by 1.3 times.
· Music volume should not be so loud that you cannot hear the sounds your vehicle makes, emergency vehicle sirens, or the ringing bells of trains when approaching a railroad crossing.
· Alberta’s distracted driving law restricts drivers from:
§ using hand-held cellphones
§ texting or e-mailing
§ 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 and
§ personal grooming
· The fine for distracted driving is $287. 3 Demerits are also applied.
· Drivers that exhibit what is deemed to be more serious or risky behaviors could be charged with “driving carelessly” under the Traffic Safety Act. The penalty for driving carelessly carries six demerit points and a fine of $502.
What can I do to avoid distractions while driving?
· Pre-set the temperature, radio or CD player. Do not make adjustments unless the vehicle is stopped.
· Make sure children are comfortable and properly buckled up before leaving. Prepare safe activities for the trip so they don't get restless.
· Know the itinerary before leaving. Do not attempt to read a map while driving.
· Finish grooming before leaving home. Do not comb your hair, shave or apply make-up while driving.
· Do not read while driving. Put newspapers and other reading materials out of sight and out of reach so you won't be tempted.
· Be sure there is nothing in the vehicle that will slide around or tip over while on the road.
What can I do to minimize distractions that may arise while driving?
· Use a cellphone only if the vehicle is parked in a safe place. If the phone rings while driving, have a passenger take the call or let it go to voice mail.
· Take a rest stop to eat or drink.
· Avoid emotionally charged conversations with passengers as they may lead to erratic driving behaviour.
· Never take notes or use a laptop while driving. Legally park in a safe place before writing things down.
· Be prepared for the unexpected actions of other motorists or poor driving conditions.
· If you need to attend to a child, find a safe spot to park the vehicle before doing so.
· Don't program electronic devices like mp3 players and GPS units while driving.
Additional information and resources can be found on Alberta Transportation’s Distracted Driving website at: transportation.alberta.ca/DistractedDriving.htm
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