Lethbridge Police Service, along with other law enforcement agencies throughout the province, will be focusing on distracted driving throughout February. The penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is a $300 fine and three demerit points.
“It’s extremely important to pay attention to the road and your surroundings for multiple reasons – we have other motorists, pedestrians and kids. Sometimes kids don’t think before they act and they might jump out on the road in front of a vehicle and you need to be paying attention, so you can have enough time to react and try to avoid any kind of serious collision or injury to any pedestrian,” says Sgt. Daniel Lomness, who is currently leading the Traffic Response Unit.
Drivers are not allowed to engage in any activity that distracts them from the vehicle’s operation, even while stopped at a red light. Restricted activities include holding, viewing or manipulating a cellphone or other communication/electronic device, writing, printing or sketching and personal grooming.
“We still have people doing their hair, makeup or reading the newspaper – those types of things, as well as even large animals blocking their view,” Lomness adds.
According to LPS, motorists can still use a hand-held cellphone to call 9-1-1, and drivers can drink beverages or eat a snack, smoke/vape or talk to passengers if it doesn’t distract the driver.
“You’re way better off to pull over and stop at a safe location if you do need to send a text message or make a phone call, where you’re not able to use hands-free. Potentially, one of those decisions could greatly affect not only your life, but somebody else’s life if you are involved in a collision and you’re not paying attention to the road,” says Lomness.