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Distracted driving accounts for more than 25% of traffic deaths in Alberta: report

A driver uses their smartphone while stopped at a traffic light in Halifax, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese A driver uses their smartphone while stopped at a traffic light in Halifax, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
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Alberta is leading the country when it comes to deaths from distracted driving, accounting for more than 25 per cent of fatal collisions in the province.

The report, published by HelloSafe after compiling the most recent statistics from Transport Canada, Alberta government, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Automobile Association, says 76 Albertans died from distracted driving in 2021, 30 more than in 2020.

The company, which compares financial products such as insurance and credit investments, says that distracted driving is also a deadly problem in Canada, accounting for 19.7 per cent of traffic-related deaths.

"In Canada, distracted driving is the second biggest cause of traffic deaths after speeding," HelloSafe said in its report.

Despite Alberta leading the statistics, HelloSafe said the punishment for distracted driving is the lowest among all Canadian provinces.

In Alberta, if you are caught driving distracted, you would be fined $287 and given three demerits.

The stiffest penalties are in Ontario, where a first conviction carries a fine of between $615 and $1,000, three demerits and a three-day licence suspension.

A second conviction results in a $615 to $2,000 fine, six demerits and a seven-day suspension while a third and each subsequent conviction would be a fine of $615 to $3,000, six demerits and a 30-day licence suspension.

Distracted driving is a lot more than just texting, emailing or using your phone, the company says.

If you're programming a GPS, eating or drinking, reading, grooming or watching videos while behind the wheel, you could also be pulled over.

HelloSafe says 13,898 fines were issued in Alberta in 2022, representing $3,988,726.

CTV News has reached out to the Alberta government for comment on the report.

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