Canadians spend a lot of time in cars; Canadian vehicles drive over 330 billion kilometres in a given year. In Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton have some of the highest average commuting times in the country. As road travel times increase, drivers are often tempted to use that time for something other than just driving, such as listening to the radio or an audiobook, having a cup of coffee or a snack, or even shaving or applying makeup. All of these activities can be distracting and potentially dangerous when done behind the wheel. These days, however, the greatest distraction is often a cell phone or smartphone. Smartphones enable us to be connected at all times, and drivers have a hard time resisting a call or text, or catching up on a quick email while in traffic. As of 2007, urban drivers in Alberta were using cell phones while driving at a rate over 2 times the national average. Distracted driving fatalities in Alberta were on the rise between 2006 and 2010. The Alberta legislature recognized the problem, and on September 1, 2011, passed the toughest distracted driving legislation in North America. Despite the tough stance taken by the Alberta government, many people still engage in distracting activities while driving. If you’ve been stuck behind a person who is driving erratically, weaving, ignoring road signs or traffic signals, or not obeying the speed limit, your first thought might be that the driver was impaired. Take a closer look, and more often than not you’ll find that the driver has their phone pinned to their ear, or is glancing down towards their lap, texting while driving.
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