Edmonton

Distracted driving not slowing down, despite all efforts, says Edmonton police chief

Edmonton's chief of police says police efforts to end distracted driving have not worked. In a year-end interview with CBC, Chief Rod Knecht said the incidents of distracted driving have not been decreasing.

'It only takes a fraction of a second to have an accident and you're putting yourself in danger'

Police are running out of ideas on how to deal with distracted driving, said Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht (CBC)

Edmonton's police chief says the efforts of his force to end distracted driving have not worked.

In a year-end interview with CBC, Chief Rod Knecht said the incidents of distracted driving have not been decreasing.

"As the police there's not a heckuva lot we can do," said Knecht. "We probably see one per cent of one per cent that we give a ticket to."

New legislation that took effect in January, adding demerits to a distracted driving ticket, haven't had much of an effect, he said.

It will likely take a change in societal attitude for there to be any real difference, he said.

"We've almost exhausted it from a policing perspective," Knecht said. "I really do think the conversation is with the public, with the community, in saying look, I'm being endangered by this."

Texting is dangerous

While talking on a cell phone is an offence under the distracted driving law, texting while driving is likely to have more serious consequences, said Knecht.

"It only takes a fraction of a second to have an accident and you're putting yourself in danger, you're putting the public in danger," he added.

In Ontario, officials report distracted driving is creating more accidents and deaths than impaired driving, he added.

"That's quite a statement. But it does make sense, there's certainly more people out there texting than there are driving impaired."

He's looking to changes in technology to provide the breakthrough that will reduce the problem of distracted driving. He envisions a device that will shut down a phone while the car is being driven, unless it's connected via Bluetooth.

"I'm sure that's coming in the future. Technology will solve our problems, but right now it's a huge public safety problem I think," Knecht said.

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