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OPINION: Drivers deserve those tickets

With distracted driving causing more than 20 per cent of fatal collisions, enforcement blitzes like the one in Okotoks last week are unfortunately still needed.
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Too many drivers are still taking their eyes off the road to look at their cell phones. Adobe Stock

We know it’s dangerous, and we also know it comes with a hefty fine, but many of us continue to do it anyway. 

According to Transport Canada’s National Collision Database, distracted driving is the cause of more than 20 per cent of fatal crashes in this country, yet many drivers think nothing of talking or texting while behind the wheel. 

How many drivers are we talking about? Well, that’s obviously hard to quantify, but municipal enforcement officers here in Okotoks were able to issue 14 tickets in just 90 minutes last Tuesday, so it’s apparent the practice continues to be widespread. 

While some might be quick to call the enforcement blitz nothing more than a cash grab, that conveniently glosses over the fact that, despite legislation coming into effect more than a decade ago to curb distracted driving, it’s still very much a scourge on our roads today. 

Driving while your attention is focused elsewhere is extremely dangerous for all those who share our roads. It impairs a driver’s ability to notice, and then safely respond to, critical events unfolding around them, potentially leading to catastrophic outcomes. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 90 km/h, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. That’s truly frightening. 

It’s a pretty simple equation: The risk of a collision rises when a driver’s attention is taken off the road, even for a few seconds. So why do so many drivers continue to use their cell phones when they’re behind the wheel? 

The easy answer is that we’re addicted to our phones and can’t go anywhere, or do anything, without them, including getting into the driver’s seat. That must change, and if it takes more $300 tickets to be handed out to achieve that goal, so be it.