We’re all busy people, and many of us multitask to accomplish the numerous things that need to be done on any given day. There’s nothing wrong with juggling multiple activities – until you get behind the wheel of a car. No matter how good of a multitasker you think you are, personal injury lawyers know that distracted driving can cause accidents with even the most experienced of drivers. But just what does distracted driving mean?
Defining Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is defined as anything that involves sharing your focus between driving and a secondary task – an offence that is punishable by a $287 fine, three demerit points, and the likelihood of increased insurance costs. Alberta’s Ministry of Transportation lists the following as being prohibited under the Traffic Safety Act:
- Using your mobile phone
- Texting (this includes when stopped at a red light)
- Using any other electronic devices, including laptops, gaming devices, cameras, and mp3 players
- Typing information into a GPS
- Reading, writing, printing or sketching
- Any personal grooming, like applying makeup, shaving, and flossing teeth.
There are, of course, some exceptions. The following are a few examples of things not specifically covered by the act:
- Eating and drinking
- Speaking with your passengers
- Using a phone hands-free
More than a fineAs stated above, drivers in Alberta caught driving while distracted will be hit with a fine and demerit points. The impact of distracted driving, however, can go far beyond a simple ticket. According to the Calgary Herald, in the past two years, Alberta has seen an unbelievable 58% rise in distracted driving accidents – the biggest increase in all of Canada. This means that despite the increased fine associated with distracted driving, more Albertans than ever are risking their own safety and the safety of other drivers by failing to give the road their full attention. A distracted driver is 3 times more likely to be involved in an accident, which is why distracted driving is rapidly becoming even more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. In the event of an accident, a ticket is the least of your worries.
What can you do?
Now that we’ve gone through the terrifying reality of distracted driving in Alberta, you might be wondering how you can avoid distractions on the road. Here are some quick tips to follow so you can do your part to make Alberta’s roads safer:
- Plan in advance: Program your GPS, answer your texts, and make any necessary phone calls before you leave home. That way, you’ll be less likely to have a pressing distraction from your electronic devices while you’re travelling.
- Autoreply: Set up an automatic response text or email that tells the person contacting you that you’re busy and that you’ll get back to them when it’s safe.
- Avoid complicated foods and beverages: While it isn’t technically against the law to eat and drink while you’re driving, complex packaging, takeout bags, and messy foods can be distracting enough to cause an accident. Stick with small snacks if you must eat while driving.
- Make yourself comfortable: Be sure to adjust your seat, mirrors, and AC before setting out, so you won’t need to adjust them en route.