Distracted driving is defined as driving a vehicle while engaging in another activity such as texting, using a handheld device, grooming, eating and drinking.
Aviva Canada reports that claims for distracted driving accidents soared by 58% in the past two years in Alberta, the largest increase across all provinces in Canada.
Aviva Canada collected data from its clients’ motor vehicle accidents between 2016 and 2018. The claims for distracted driving accidents increased in Canada by 23%, on average. Alberta’s increase in claims was found to be more than double the Canadian average.
Phil Gibson, Aviva Canada’s chief underwriting officer, could not explain why Alberta was leading the pack in distracted driving. He stated,
Despite increased penalties and awareness on this issue, too many Canadians are still driving distracted behind the wheel. The majority of these accidents are preventable – such as hitting stationary objects, rear ending other vehicles and inattentive lane changes.
CPS Sgt. Dale Seddon stated:
People need to come to the realization that distracted driving causes all the damage, all the lives lost and all the hurt in society that impaired driving causes. The two equate to each other just like that and even though distracted driving is newer, if you will, than impaired driving it causes all the catastrophe that impaired driving does.
STATISTICS REGARDING DISTRACTED DRIVING
It should be common knowledge by now that distracted driving is dangerous as it takes your eyes and your mind off the road. Distracted driving has severe consequences to both the distracted driver and his/her passengers and anyone within his/her path.
Statistics demonstrate that a distracted driver can fail to see up to 50% of their immediate environment.
Distracted drivers contribute to 20-30% of all motor vehicle collisions and distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than focused drivers.
Between September 1, 2011, when distracted driving legislation was first introduced in Alberta, to March 31, 2017, there were 139,579 convictions. Of these convictions, 97% were for the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving.
With distracted driving claims on the rise in Alberta, it is becoming more fatal than impaired driving.
ALBERTA’S DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS
On January 1, 2016, Alberta increased the fine for distracted driving from $172 to $287, with three demerit points.
Drivers who receive too many demerit points will have their licence suspended. Individuals with a Graduated Driver Licence will have their licence suspended if they collect eight or more demerit points. Fully licenced drivers will have their licences suspended if they collect 15 or more demerit points.
According to the Traffic Safety Act, distracted driving laws apply to all roads in Alberta and prohibit drivers from the following:
- using hand-held cell phones;
- texting or e-mailing;
- using electronic devices such as laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and portable audio players;
- entering information on GPS units;
- reading printed material;
- writing, printing or sketching; and
- personal grooming (including brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving).
The following activities are not restricted activities under the law:
- using a cell-phone in hands-free mode;
- drinking non-alcoholic beverages;
- listening to music;
- using earphones;
- using two-way radios or hand-held radios (i.e. CB radios) when a driver is required to remain in contact with his/her employer (i.e. escorting oversized vehicles or participating in search and rescue or emergency situations); and
- calling 911 with a hand-held cell phone in an emergency.
There are no specific laws regarding distracted driving and pets, however, police could argue that a driver became too involved with his/her pet and was distracted in a manner that was comparative to the banned activities of reading, writing and grooming.
SIMPLE TIPS TO AVOID DISTRACTED DRIVING AND TO KEEP FROM BECOMING A STATISTIC
Cell phones are a driver’s biggest distraction while driving. It is strongly recommended that drivers only use hands-free devices while driving to make short phone calls. Even drivers who are using hands-free devices become distracted by a telephone conversation while navigating through traffic.
It is also suggested that drivers pre-program any GPS tools or music devices before starting their vehicle. If the need to make a call or return a text arises while driving, find somewhere safe to pull over and park your vehicle.
Before starting your vehicle, drivers should ensure that their children are comfortable, properly seat belted and have everything they need. It is also essential to keep pets safely secured in the backseat or in a crate while driving. Also, know your itinerary before leaving and do not attempt to read a map while driving.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered. Please contact the experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers either online or by calling 403-571-0555 for a free consultation.