By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
According to Coaldale and District Emergency Services’ Fire Chief Gary Gettman, the dangers of texting and driving remain an ongoing concern.
“But, still you see people doing it,” he said.
Even though distracted driving may not necessarily be the cause of many collisions locally, Gettman said, you can see it on the street quite regularly when out and about and driving around.
“It only happens to the other person, right? Until something happens and you’re caught in the middle of it. A lot of times it’s innocent people that get tangled up and seriously hurt or killed, as a result of it too,” he noted.
This winter, Gettman offered some tips for when motorists are out on the roads in southern Alberta.
Tip number one — Keep your vehicle in good shape during winter driving.
“Have good tires on it. You can’t have bald tires and expect to go through a southern Alberta winter. A set of tires is a lot cheaper than an accident,” he said.
Tip number two — Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.
“You never know what’s going to be coming down the road. If you have to spend some time in your vehicle before you get rescued — be able to help yourself. Be prepared for you and your family,” Gettman noted.
Tip number three — Give yourself more time to get to and from your destination.
Many times road conditions change from one hour to the next and a motorist can travel at 100 kilometres an hour on a dry road but when the same road is covered with sleet and/or snow motorists don’t adjust their routine for the conditions.
“If it’s sleet or snow overnight a lot of people will leave at the same time to go to work. They’ve got a routine and they have to drive 100 or 110 kilometres an hour to make it to work on time. Some roads you should only be doing 60 kilometres an hour and that’s when you get into trouble, when people are in a hurry they don’t adjust for the road conditions,” he explained.
“Give yourself ample time to get some place safely,” he added.
As for holiday celebrating, if out and about drinking, get support from friends and family. Plan for someone to pick you up, use a designated driver program or call a taxi.
“If somebody wants to go out and have some fun, go ahead and do it, but be responsible,” Gettman noted. But, just use common sense.
“Plan your evenings. Plan ahead. It’s not rocket science. Planning ahead can save your life or someone else’s,” he said.
Coalhurst and District Emergency Services’ Fire Chief Mathew Conte said the department still sees cellphone usage when people are behind the wheel.
“It still seems to be quite a problem. We obviously try and relay the message out there to anybody — to make sure you’re pulling over safely off to the side of the road or the highway, right to the shoulder, so you’re not blocking any oncoming traffic and then use your cellphone to make phone calls. Obviously, hands-free devices such as a Bluetooth device should be utilized whenever possible,” he noted.
Conte also offered some winter driving tips. “Icy roads are always a bit of an issue,” he added.
“Winter tires definitely help but it’s not obviously an end-all solution to fix. Give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes to get to work or wherever you’re going and take that extra time to drive slower and be a little more cautious on the roads,” he said.
Conte said drivers should give themselves a lot of room between vehicles, so they’re not following too closely. “If somebody stops or hits their brakes in front of you — are you going to have enough time on an icy road to be able to slow down safely?”