August STEP - Focus on Young Drivers

The MHPS will be focusing on young drivers during the month of August as part of the province wide Selected Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP). Vehicle crashes are the number one killer of young people in Alberta. Age, inexperience, distraction and peer pressure are significant factors in vehicle related injuries and death during the teen years. Crash rates for young drivers are the highest when there are teen passengers in the vehicle and when driving at night. One in five new drivers will be involved in a collision in their first year of driving.

Parents play a vital role in teaching their teens to drive. Parents of teen drivers should set a good example behind the wheel, and set specific rules for their teen driver and stick to them. Parents can also enroll their teen driver in driver education, and most importantly, help your teen to practice driving.

Did you know? In Alberta, a parent of a driver under 18 years of age must give written consent to allow their teen to get their operator’s license. Parents can revoke that permission at any time, and their teen’s operator’s license will be revoked. Parents maintain that right until their teen reaches the age of 18 years. If a parent or legal guardian wishes to withdraw parental consent, they may be required to submit their request in writing to any Alberta Registry Office. The parental withdrawal MUST be initiated by the same parent/person who signed the original consent form.

In August, the MHPS will also focus on Distracted Drivers, which continues to be a traffic safety priority. Many motorists continue to operate their vehicles while distracted, regardless of the fines and demerits associated with the offence. The risks associated with distracted driving closely resemble those of impairment, and it’s no surprise that governments are taking that next step to try and limit these occurrences.

In Alberta, the penalty for distracted driving is a $287 fine and three (3) demerit points. Drivers also need to be aware that the legislation is not specific to only texting or talking on a device, but states it is an offence to “hold, view, or manipulate” a hand-held device.

The Traffic Safety Act restricts drivers from:

  • Holding, viewing or manipulating hand held cell phones, whether talking, texting or emailing
  • using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (MP3 players)
  • entering information on GPS units
  • reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • writing, printing or sketching
  • and personal grooming

A driver can pull over to the side of the road to use their devices, providing they are stopped and legally parked. If a driver is not in a legal parking spot, for instance a drive-thru, a ticket can still be issued. The only time a driver can use their cell phone while driving is to call in an emergency situation to a 9-1-1 Communications Centre.

For more information, contact:

Sgt. Gerald Sadlemyer

Traffic Unit

Medicine Hat Police Service