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Alberta lags behind other provinces when it comes to stopping people from using hand-held cellphones while driving. ((CBC))

Alberta RCMP plan to crack down on distracted drivers in February, keeping an even closer eye on drivers who aren't paying attention on the road, whether they are doing makeup, chatting on cell phones, eating or reading.

Any distraction can be lethal, said Const. Sabrina Grunow. If police find drivers operating a vehicle in a careless manner they can face a fine of $402 and six demerits on their license.

"In a split second you can hit ice, you can hit snow, you can hit another vehicle who slammed on their brakes and you just don't have the time to react," she said.

Distracted driving legislation for Alberta drivers is on the agenda for the provincial government, but officials haven't confirmed when it will be introduced.

The RCMP's crackdown comes at the same time as a new insurance industry study out of the U.S. concludes that banning cellphone use while driving does not result in fewer accidents.

Researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute in the U.S. studied the crash rates of states with cellphone bans in place and compared them to states that have not implemented the ban.

The results of the research caught them by surprise, said spokesman Russ Rader.

"There has been no effect on crash rates in the states that have passed hand-held cellphone bans," he said. "There are all kinds of distractions and it's not clear that cellphones are a worse distraction than some of the other things we do when we should be paying attention to the roads."  

Many provinces have already banned the use of hand-held cellphones on the road: Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.