Distracted driving prevention month

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Airdrie RCMP is reminding drivers to focus on the road when behind the wheel, stressing any other activity can wait.

“Within the Airdrie city limits, we’ve always taken it quite seriously,” said Airdrie RCMP Media Liaison Const. Dan Martin. “We are out on the streets and that’s something that we’re looking for to maintain public safety.”

February is Distracted Driving Month throughout the province, and Alberta RCMP Const. Mike Hibbs said officers hope to raise awareness as to the range of activities that constitute distracted driving.

“The conception is that we only look for cellphones and people texting, but there are a number of other things that we look out for, such as using your GPS or eating or drinking,” Hibbs said. “We have some people who read from their tablet or printed paper, conversations with passengers – there are a whole range of things that we look for.”

According to a release, there were 139,579 distracted driving convictions between Sept. 1, 2011 and March 31, 2017. Ninety-seven per cent of those convictions involved a handheld electronic device.

“It only takes a second to take your eyes off the road. Once you take your eyes off the road, your reaction time drops,” Hibbs said. “You could be involved with a serious collision or even a fatal collision.”

The penalty for distracted driving is currently set at $287 and comes with three demerit points. Martin said Distracted Driving Month was an opportunity to educate the public, especially about the dangers of distracted driving in a community like Airdrie.

“We have a lot of people with quite young families. We’ve reduced speed limits within our communities to ensure our children and pedestrians are safe,” he said. “We’re quite a tight-knit community and I think it’s quite important people put their phones down.”

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