ALBERTA: New distracted driving legislation in Alberta may be a step in the right direction to protecting motorists, but it might not be enough.
Country 95 News contacted the Saskatoon Police Service to get an idea of what we might be able to expect, as the province of Saskatchewan implemented a similar law to start 2010.
Staff Sergeant Grant Obst oversees the traffic unit for the Saskatoon Police Service. He explained that unfortunately it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference. When the legislation first came into effect in January of 2010, banning drivers from using hand held devices like cell phones and GPS units, they gave motorists a two month grace period. Then starting in March they started giving out tickets, which added up to about 1,100 by the end of the year.
Obst noted that as of July 2011, they had already matched that total.
Obst did state that the increase could simply be a result of better enforcement, however he stated that reports from the community and police officers on Saskatoon roads, seems to indicate that things haven't improved much.
Another important note is that in Saskatchewan the penalties for distracted driving are much higher then in Alberta. If you're convicted of distracted driving there you'll get a $280 dollar fine and four demerit points. In Alberta there's only a fine of $172.
Obst stressed that distracted driving puts everyone on the roadway at risk and needs to stop, adding that while they haven't had the success they were hoping for, they will continue to enforce the law and work to make the streets safer.