By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Distractions are everywhere — at work, at play, at home, and when we drive. When driving, eliminate the distraction of distracted driving, it’s easy and can save your life or someone else’s. February is Distracted Driving Month in Alberta.
“Alberta Transportation follows a traffic safety calendar. The purpose of the calendar is to focus the traffic safety topic each month and then we co-ordinate with enforcement, so their select traffic enforcement is also following the calendar. February being Distracted Driving Month, we put out education and awareness about the hazards of distracted driving. Enforcement also step up their actions on their end to target any behaviours specific to distracted driving,” explained Wendy Doyle, executive director of the Office of Traffic Safety, Alberta Transportation.
Doyle pointed out the purpose of the month is for people to understand what the rules of the road are, make safe choices while they’re behind the wheel, and should they choose not to — then there’s consequences, especially through enforcement during the month of February.
According to Doyle, the biggest thing drivers need to know is distracted driving takes many forms and it’s not just texting.
“It’s really any hand-held use of a device, whether you’re programming a GPS or dialing a phone number to call someone and then the obvious ones. You don’t want to eat a bowl of cereal, no sketching or printing or reading newspapers or anything like that. It covers a large variety of behaviours,” she said.
Drivers keep your task on driving because humans are not very good at separating their cognitive attention and driving takes a tremendous amount of skill and attention, Doyle added.
“We basically just want drivers to keep it on the task itself.”
Next month in Alberta, March is Occupant Restraints Month. “We’re going to focus on booster seat safety,” said Doyle.
“It’s important to remember seat belts do save lives. Depending upon the size of the occupant — from new born babies up to adults, there is a seat of choice. From child safety seats to booster seats to seat belts, they’re designed to keep you in your seat, so the engineering of the vehicle can do its work and that’s to keep you in the engineered life space,” she said.
“However you stay seated in your seat and protected in that specific area, that’s exactly what they’re designed to do and that’s what we want people to do. To select the right seat and to make the right choices when they are behind the wheel,” Doyle added.
Next month, Doyle said, there will be clinics going on in different communities throughout Alberta, because there’s always new parents wanting to make sure their child safety and booster seats are installed safely, Doyle said.
“Distracted driving is still unacceptable and dangerous and puts everyone on our roads at risk. We just want people to drive with care,” she added.