Dialling up questions on distracted driving law success

- June 21st, 2012

For the last few months, Alberta has been under rule of the distracted driving legislation, banning talking, texting, makeup application, reading, etc., while behind the wheel.

I have written my fair share about problems with the law, including provisions that prohibit changing music yet still allows lighting a smoke, or the nice sections that say you can’t even check your phone if you’re stuck at a rail crossing. And as a top traffic cop has suggested he’s seeing people go to greater lengths to hide banned behaviour, thereby taking eyes further off the wheel, there is fear of a greater risk of crashes.

But at least one member of the force is crediting the law for a reduction in crashes.

“I personally believe that’s the reason,” said CPS spokesman Kevin Brookwell, regarding the perceived link between the province’s distracted driving law and a large drop in crashes in the last three months of 2011 and the same period of 2010.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, there were about 9,400 crashes, compared to more than 13,000 in 2010.

A nice drop. Nothing to sneeze at, really. Fewer crashes are a good thing.

But because of the distracted driving law? Prove it.

Just because the legislation came into effect Sept. 1, doesn’t mean it gets credit for the drop.

After all, in the previous year’s three months, there was a drop of 2,000 crashes. And that followed two years of hikes.

Maybe some drivers were being extra cautious in Calgary in 2010 AND 2011. Maybe the new law played a role, but no one can give it credit for the whole drop.

To continue the analysis and looking at the first three months of 2012, a similar claim could be made. After all, from 2011 to 2012, there was a drop of about 2,000 crashes for the quarter.

But there was a larger drop, 3,000 fewer crashes, between the same periods in 2009 and 2010 and that drop was book-ended by spikes.

Traffic patterns, including crashes, fluctuate.

A drop can never be attributed to a single factor, and that includes distracted driving legislation.

Categories: Politics

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1 comment

  1. Whippett says:

    Not sure why there is a drop…I dont see any less people on the phone or texting….if only I was a traffic cop….

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