For the greater part of our population who really respect and care about the safety and well being of others, it is most frustrating to see those drivers in communities and out on our busy highways and by-ways who back and forth across the road while chatting on their cell phones or staring down at their laps while texting, typing or gazing at their emails. RCMP and peace officers across our province are frustrated by way too much of this kind of dangerous ignorance from behind the wheel, and have launched their vital ‘Crotches Kill’ campaign to try and stop and prosecute those selfish individuals who put themselves first and endanger everyone by driving while distracted.
Some of the worst examples of distracted driving include using hand-held phones, texting, emailing, reading, writing, eating, grooming and typing in GPS-co-ordinates while the driver is supposed to be concentrating on the road ahead and protecting the drivers, passengers, and pedestrians that should be within our sight-line and with attention 100 per cent on every road trip that we take. Here are some of the cold hard facts about the perils and horrific results that have been created by those who insist on driving while distracted or impaired and have been unable to make the life-saving split second decisions that can avoid collisions, injury, and so sadly the far too many deaths of innocent people of all ages and walks of life.
*According to the AMA website, cellphones are one of the most common distractions for drivers, with those engaged in text messaging on their phones being 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash event that non-distracted drivers. The overwhelming fact is that driver distraction is a factor in about four million vehicle crashes in North America each year, with 20 to 30 per cent of all collisions involving driver distraction.
*Penalties for driver distraction offenses in Alberta are now even stiffer, with each convicted offender receiving a fine of $287 as well as three demerit points. Since Alberta began levying fines for distracted driving in 2011, close to 80,000 drivers have been convicted, and of those caught and charged, the greatest offenders were between the ages of 35 to 44, who were likely in a hurry and always on the phone. Other ridiculous excuses for driver distractions have included personal grooming and flossing, reading, rowdy passengers, dogs on laps, large and glitzy items hanging on the rear view mirror and on and on every day.
*All police officers state very strongly that distracted driving reduces our awareness of what’s happening on the road ahead and in the vehicle, as well as our ability to make quick decisions. They also express the fact, however, that some people have developed an obsession that they can’t resist the temptation to be on their phones, even though it only takes a few moments to pull over, take a break, enjoy a coffee and safely make and pick up your calls at the same time. Speeding, as well as careless and impaired driving are also extremely serious and very preventable offenses as well, with all punishable by huge fines, loss of license or jail-time, and where we, as the safety conscience public, can take down a license and inform the RCMP about a would-be offender. We all deserve to enjoy our time out on the highways and by-ways, but no matter how long the trip may be, we must also strive to work as a family and a team and encourage everyone else to practice and promote the rules and etiquette of the road to assure the safety of all of those who are also out there among nature’s finest. So spare the sun-screen for a little while, but go ahead and have a great week, all of you.