The dangers of distracted driving
Despite public education campaigns and increased fines, distracted driving remains one of the most significant causes of collisions, injuries, and deaths on Canada’s roads, says Rhino Legal Finance President Larry Herscu.
Although distracted driving became illegal in Alberta over a decade ago, a recent press release from the Alberta RCMP reminds motorists to “leave the phone alone.”
“Research has shown driver distraction is the primary cause of over 20 per cent of all crashes, and that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers,” the Alberta RCMP states.
The release also details the sentencing of an Alberta man who received his 13th conviction for distracted driving in the past 11 years, with fines totaling $7,665.
The release states that Alberta’s distracted driving law applies to all vehicles as defined by the Traffic Safety Act and all roads in Alberta. It restricts drivers from doing any of the following, even while stopped in traffic or at red lights:
- Using hand-held mobile devices
- Texting or emailing
- Using electronic devices such as laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays, and portable audio players
- Entering information on GPS units
- Reading printed materials
- Writing, printing, or sketching
- Personal grooming, such as brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails, or shaving
Alberta’s penalty for distracted driving is a $300 fine and three demerit points.
Herscu says while motorists know they should not be doing other things while they drive, it still happens. Statistics from the Canadian Automobile Association show nearly 80 per cent of drivers admit to doing something distracting while driving. Among the most dangerous distractions are in-vehicle technologies, like a driver’s phone, a car’s console, or voice-activated features.
“Distracted driving includes anything that takes your eyes and your concentration off the road,” Herscu says. “If you have to make a call, send a text or check a map, have a passenger do it for you or carefully pull over to a safe area.”
Under the Traffic Safety Act, a driver can be charged with distracted driving, even if their driving performance does not appear to be affected. For example, if you commit a moving violation while distracted, you could receive two tickets — one for distracted driving and one for the moving violation, states the Alberta.ca website.
“Fines and demerit points aside, it is just not worth it to be distracted while driving,” says Herscu. “An accident can happen in the blink of an eye and have devastating consequences for you and your family as well as other drivers on the road.”
“We often hear from clients who are struggling in the aftermath of motor vehicle collisions,” he says. “If they are injured and unable to work, they turn to us for settlement loans to help with their bills and pay for medical treatment while their lawyers fight for fair settlements or court awards.”
Larry Herscu is President of Rhino Legal Finance, a specialty lender focused on providing credit solutions to the legal sector, including its clients and service providers.