things Preventing distracted driving
goes beyond new legislation
of Injury Prevention at Alberta Health
Services. “They get too comfortable driving
their usual route and think it’s okay to text,
talk on the phone or turn around to pass
their child a sippy cup because they’ve
done it so many times before.”
Staniland warns such actions are
dangerous while driving and one of
the reasons motor vehicle collisions are
a leading cause of injury and death in
“Unforeseen risks are always present
and we need to be ready to respond
quickly,” she says.
University of Calgary psychology
professor Jeff Caird has researched the risks
associated with driving while distracted.
In one study, he examined how
cellphone use affects driving performance.
Caird found when using either a hand-held
or hands-free device, a driver’s reaction
time slows by about a quarter of a second.
While that delay is only an instant, an
difference between life and death.
Added to this is the fact that using
these devices affects a driver’s ability to
control a vehicle.
Staniland says regardless of what’s in
your hands—or on your mind—there are
times while driving when you’re faced
with making a split-second decision and if
you’re distracted you’re risking a collision.
“You might think you’re saving time
trying to do something else while driving,
— Keri lee
New legislation being introduced
across the province this fall aims to help
keep drivers focused on driving—not on
their cellphones, lipstick, reading and the
like. Alberta Transportation hopes the new
law will help reduce the more than 150,000
collisions in the province each year.
Since Sept. 1, 2011, it has been illegal for
drivers to use hand-held cellphones, to text
or e-mail, or use electronic devices like
laptop computers, video games, cameras,
video entertainment displays, portable
audio players (e.g., MP3 players) while
driving. Entering information on GPS
units, reading printed materials, writing,
printing, sketching and personal grooming
will also be illegal when you’re behind the
wheel. All will be subject to a $172 fine.
But the law is only part of the solution:
avoiding distraction really comes down to
the choices each and every driver makes.
“People forget that driving is complex
and requires full attention, physically and
mentally,” says Nancy Staniland, manager
road safety depends on drivers’ full attention
To find out about alberta’s
distracted driving legislation, visit: