Too many drivers distracted, says St. Albert student survey

Students from St. Albert Catholic High School found first hand this morning that distracted driving laws may need more enforcement to keep drivers from reaching for their phone or make up.

Students from St. Albert Catholic High School found first hand this morning that distracted driving laws may need more enforcement to keep drivers from reaching for their phone or make up.

The students joined representatives from insurance company Allstate Canada at the busy St. Albert intersection of St. Albert Trail and St. Vital Avenue Tuesday morning between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. to count distracted drivers.

St. Albert High School students count distracted drivers at St. Albert Trail and St. Vital Avenue during rush hour Tuesday morning. (CBC)

Early results had each of four groups of students counting a dozen distracted drivers, which included everything from smoking (not illegal) to texting (illegal)

By the end of the hour students had more precise numbers:

  • 3 drivers were using GPS or adjusting dials
  • 22 drivers were seen talking on a phone 
  • 26 were grooming (though most while stopped at the light)
  • 27 were smoking
  • 39 were eating or drinking
  • 46 were talking to passengers
  • 52 were caught texting
  • ​10 other various distractions including having a dog on a lap

A recent study commissioned by Allstate Canada found that 97 per cent of Canadian drivers perceive distracted driving negatively if done by other drivers, yet 90 per cent of drivers admit to engaging in some kind of distraction behind the wheel, up from 75 per cent in a similar survey conducted in 2010.

It's been two years since Alberta introduced distracted driving penalties.

Allison Wood, a Grade 12 student, said more needs to be done to dissuade people from driving while distracted.

"Maybe seeing the consequences of what distracted driving can do - maybe pictures of accidents, statistics like this showing how much it really does go on around you and what it can cause."

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