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Motorist ticketed for watching laptop while driving during snowstorm

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 12:23 pm

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A 28-year-old man from Edmonton was issued a distracted driving ticket on Jan. 4 because he was watching a television program on his laptop while driving on Highway 2 near Carstairs.

Airdrie Integrated Traffic Unit (ITU) officers were contacted by a concerned motorist who was travelling southbound on Highway 2 on Jan. 4 at around 8:30 p.m.

Witnesses reported seeing a red Volkswagon Golf travelling southbound and exhibiting irregular driving patterns.

As witnesses passed the vehicle, it became clear that the driver had his laptop open on the dash of his vehicle and was watching and episode of Tosh.0.

The witnesses called 911 and ITU officers were dispatched. According to RCMP, a white glow emanating from the windows of the vehicle, helped ITU officers locate the car on the highway.

Airdrie ITU Sgt. Jason Graw said distracted driving has come into focus recently as it has become more prevalent in the media, and although the majority of people understand that it’s dangerous, there are still motorists who don’t acknowledge the risks.

“Even a momentary distraction can cause a collision,” said Graw. “We’ve seen drivers using everything from iPads to iPhones to laptops and books; the most common is definitely talking (on the phone) or texting and some drivers try to use the excuse with their phones that they were just checking the time or checking a map or changing a song, but it doesn’t matter, all of that qualifies as distracted driving.”

The driver, and lone occupant of the vehicle, a 28-year-old man from Edmonton was issued tickets for distracted driving and failing to produce a valid insurance card.

Graw said that watching a video is a much more serious instance of distracted driving than talking on the phone and isn’t seen as often, but re-iterates that any form of distracted driving is very dangerous.

“Obviously this is concerning to us given that about 30 per cent of fatal collisions in our province are attributable to distracted driving,” said Graw, who said he was thankful for the phone call that tipped off the ITU in this instance.

“Thankfully in this case, concerned motorists alerted our officers to what was going on and helped us catch up to this individual before a tragedy could occur,” said Graw.

The police rely heavily on the assistance of the public in many cases, especially on the province’s highways, according to Graw.

“We depend a lot on the public for a lot of these things,” said Graw.

“They are our eyes and ears out there because we just can’t be everywhere at once, they’re definitely a big help to us.”

Graw advises anyone who spots a dangerous driver to call 911 from a hands-free phone, or to pull over to the side of the road to make the call.


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