Sitting high up in the cab of a huge tandem City of Edmonton truck, what you see when you look down at other drivers at red lights can be downright frightening.
“I saw them all the time,” says Brittany Shelley, a former Transportation Services truck driver now reassigned to contract supervision.
‘They’re distracted drivers, and what she’s seen them do in their cars makes Brittany all the more highly aware of ‘the other guy’ whether she’s piloting a tandem sanding truck, a City half-ton, or her own private vehicle.
“Especially from way up high in the tandem, you’d see them looking down at the cell phone they held down by their knees. I’ve even seen people using small laptops resting on their knees.”
And that’s not all, folks!
“I couldn’t believe my eyes one day when I saw a man driving on a one-lane road with a newspaper propped on the steering wheel, some food in one hand and a cigarette in the other!
“I mean, how can you actually drive when you’re doing all those things at once?”
Brittany’s highly aware that what she calls ‘selective attention’ while driving is a real safety hazard.
“People like to think they can manage a couple of things at once…but it’s been proven they can’t.”
Part of that proof was the day she followed a half-ton truck into a tree-lined roadway, the entrance to her parents’ rural subdivision near Camrose.
“He texting, and he smashed his truck right into a tree.
“He didn’t want to wait even one minute until he arrived home, and now he has to pay a lot of money to repair the damage. I wonder if that text was really worth it?” she asks.
Here are a few tips about how you can keep your mind fully on your driving and avoid the newly-raised (to $250) fine for distracted driving:
- Turn your cell phone off, or put it on silent. If you notice a call coming in, allow it to go to voicemail.
- Don’t text, surf the web or email while driving, even while stopped at a traffic light – that’s illegal, too!
- Don’t eat, drink or groom yourself while driving.
- If you need to make a call, stop in a safe place, out of traffic flow.
- Pre-program your GPS before driving.
- Secure your pet before driving.
- Put all reading material and maps in your trunk or in the back seat away from your reach.
- If you have young passengers, do what you can to ensure their behaviour won’t distract you.
Just a reminder for City employees operating City vehicles or driving your private vehicle while on business … that the use of cell phones, including handsfree, is not permitted at anytime unless the vehicle is legally parked.
If you or a workmate need a little more convincing, the Alberta Motor Association has created a nifty Distracted Driving Simulator app for iPhones. Check it out.