According to police forces around the country, distracted driving is now at epidemic proportions. Distracted driving is now the new impaired driving causing as many or more deaths than drinking and driving. Behaviour modification isn’t easy. It is a delicate balance or punishments, rewards and education. I’m not certain there could be much in the way of rewards, except for perhaps getting home safely without hurting anyone. However there certainly could be more in the way of education. The campaigns against distracted driving need to be at least as big and well funded as the campaigns against drinking and driving. Students in schools, even elementary schools need to be taught the dangers. They can be the conscience for the parents when they decide to use their phone while driving.
And while education needs to improve, so do the punishments. As a driving instructor I have asked my students if they would continue to text and drive if the punishment was a fine and 8 demerits. I use the number 8 because drivers who only have the Graduated Driver’s License are only allowed 7 demerits before their license is suspended. Eight demerits would be an automatic suspension. Two of these tickets, 16 demerits would mean a driver with a non-GDL would lose his or her license.
Alberta highway 63 is in the process of being twinned. The construction was fast tracked because of the number of people who died on the highway. It was the families of people who were killed by impaired drivers that said enough is enough, these people need to be punished severely. Sadly, human nature being what it is, the only thing that will move this process along will be the bodies of those killed by distracted drivers. Let’s pray that it doesn’t take too many more.