Distracted driving is a hot topic in Drumheller and in the rest of the province. In early February, the Alberta RCMP announced that it had issued 7,611 distracted driving tickets in 2017 province-wide.
However, said Drumheller RCMP Staff Sergeant Kevin Charles, just because tickets are issued, it doesn't mean that people are getting the message.
"I wouldn't say we're seeing an increase [in tickets], but we're certainly not seeing the decrease that we had hoped [for]."
The penalty for distracted driving is currently $287 and three demerit points. Charles explained that the laws apply to everyone, regardless of what's causing the distraction.
"If you have any kind of a cell phone or a handheld electronic device," he elaborated. "The whole point of distracted driving it to keep your attention and your focus on the road and not on the cell phone, in your lap or in your hand or putting on make-up in the rear view mirror. [The point] is to keep you full attention on the road."
As of Jan. 2016, Alberta Transportation considers the following activities to be distracted driving:
- using hand-held cell phones
- texting or e-mailing (even when stopped at red lights)
- 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 (brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving.
However, the law is less cut-and-dry about other activities. For more information, see the Distracted Driving Legislation page.