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Driver complacency an issue in war on distracted driving
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2013 5:19PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 6, 2013 6:29PM MST
For more than a year, Albertans have been required to put down their cell phones when they drive. Drivers appeared to receive the message at first, but police say many drivers appear to have forgotten the new laws.
During the first three months of the new legislation, from September through December of 2011, police handed out a total of 1,039 distracted driving tickets.
In the same time period in 2012, 1,700 tickets were issued.
Overall, in 2012, police issued 6,558 tickets for distracted driving.
Police say drivers are becoming complacent.
When the law was first put into practice, most drivers were aware of the penalties and were vigilant in putting their phones away while in their vehicles.
Police say people are falling out of the habit though and some drivers may not be aware of the rules.
“People figure that if you have it on speaker phone and you're holding it up and talking if it’s not up to your ear that's ok but it's not ok,” says Cst. Jim Lebedeff. “The law is very specific it says hands free.”
“We want to hammer the message home that, yeah, it's a $172 fine, but the worst thing that can happen is you're going to hurt somebody seriously or kill somebody,” says Cst. Lebedeff. “What's it going to take for people to realize we are hounding you because this is a very dangerous practice?”