Distracted drivers getting craftier, but so are Calgary police

Calgary police say they are handing out fewer texting and driving tickets this year, but it's likely not because drivers are giving up their bad habits.

'We're kidding ourselves if we think that problem is going away, it's not going away at all'

The penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is a $287 fine and three demerit points. (Tom Boland/The Canadian Press)

Calgary police say they are handing out fewer distracted driving tickets this year, but it's likely not because drivers are giving up their bad texting habits.

Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey says this month alone, officers in the traffic section have issued more than 300 tickets.

"We're kidding ourselves if we think that problem is going away, it's not going away at all," he said.

Earlier this month, Calgary police ran a distracted driving sting from up high on a pedestrian bridge over a busy southwest street. When police spied an offending driver, they radioed to officers on the ground, who pulled the car over. 

Police say the sting netted more than 30 tickets in an hour. 

Stacey says as drivers get more creative at hiding their cellphones, police are being forced to get craftier too.

"We've had to put a bit more effort into catching them because they typically don't have their phones in front of their faces, but we're still catching them" he said.

Stacey says most drivers are keeping their phones down in their laps, so they can avert their eyes when they can.

Police getting sneakier

Calgarian Daniel Grab says the size of the vehicle also plays a role in how people interact with their phones. 

"I drive a car, so I got to be more mindful, but people in these big old trucks that you see driving around, they can get away with whatever and that's a danger," he said

Police across the country have also started taking sneakier approaches to catching distracted driver. In Ontario, police rode around the city on buses to get a better vantage point of distracted drivers, in Manitoba, RCMP has posted plain clothes officers on street corners to nab unsuspecting drivers.

With files from Colleen Underwood