February is Distracted Driving Awareness month, and Red Deer RCMP and Community Peace Officers will be zeroing in on distracted drivers all month long through targeted distracted driving campaigns and everyday patrols by general duty and Traffic members in marked and unmarked police vehicles. Campaigns and patrols will include areas around schools to target young drivers making dangerous choices.
“Distracted driving interferes with your ability to make split-second decisions and that causes injury, results in expensive repairs and can even cost a life,” said Sergeant Kevin Halwa of the Red Deer RCMP. “It only takes a second for a collision to occur, and any collision with a pedestrian or cyclist has the potential to be deadly.”
Distracted driving contributes to 20 to 30% of collisions in Alberta. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a driver is eight times more likely to get into a collision when texting, and four times more likely to be in a collision when talking on their phone, even if they’re using a hands free device. The penalty for distracted driving is $287 and three demerits.
“When you’re driving, there is nothing more important than the road and the people around you,” says Halwa. “Put away your devices. If you tell yourself you’re a good driver and can manage both, you’re lying to yourself. Set your phone to ‘do not disturb’ while you’re driving, shut it off, or mute the sound until you get to your destination.”
Red Deer RCMP will charge drivers for these behaviours while driving: personal grooming; using handheld electronic devices including cell phones; texting; writing or sketching; reading printed materials; entering information on GPS devices; and allowing a person, animal, or thing to impede their safe operation of the vehicle, which includes rowdy passengers, dogs on laps, and large items hanging from the rearview mirror.
If you wish to report a dangerous driver, call the RCMP complaint line at 403-343-5575. RCMP need three pieces of information in order to follow up with traffic complaints:
1. License plate of the vehicle (partial plates can be useful when combined with 2 & 3)
2. Description of the vehicle and driver
3. A written statement from the witness and willingness to attend court if necessary