Alberta RCMP and sheriffs were out in full force this Easter long weekend, handing out hundreds of traffic tickets to those not following the rules of the road.
Cpl. Chris Little with the Strathcona County RCMP’s Traffic Services Unit said the most shocking thing was handing out two impaired driving tickets before noon Monday.
“First thing this morning, which I find extremely discouraging considering we’re dealing with an Easter Monday and it’s the a.m. hours,” Little said.
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“It seems on Alberta roadways at any time of the day we encounter either drug or alcohol impaired drivers.”
On Friday, Little said RCMP didn’t hand out any tickets for alcohol impairment, but he couldn’t say the same for drug impairments.
“We’re seeing more of it now. I’ve found throughout my service that the use of alcohol was the primary source of impairment. Now we’re finding that drug impairment is a big factor.”
The president of the Edmonton area chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving suggested to Global News on Monday that the impaired driving tickets didn’t necessarily shock her and that long weekends are a “scary time” for her organization.
“We know that there is increased traffic on the road, increased activities and festivities going on where the likelihood of someone driving impaired is quite high,” Leila Andrews said.” And it’s always disappointing and disheartening come Monday morning when we do see those numbers.”
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Little said despite heftier fines and demerit points, distracted driving is also still a huge issue for RCMP.
“We have no shortage of clients out here and distracted driving is certainly a large issue for us as well.”
As of Jan. 1, 2016, a distracted driving ticket in Alberta comes with a $287 fine and three demerit points. Little said the increased penalty doesn’t seem to be resonating with Alberta drivers.
“Unfortunately the fines which were recently raised … and the adding of demerit points hasn’t made any difference whatsoever out here so we’re going to have to certainly look at possibly raising the fines again and maybe higher demerit points,” Little said Monday.
“In this province we were very slow to bring out legislation regarding distracted driving. So if you can use the analogy of, ‘the horse is out of the stable,’ now we’re fighting a losing battle with electronic devices because, like I said, people are addicted to them and it’s an uphill battle for us out here.”
About 500 tickets were handed out on Friday alone, the majority of which were for speeding, motorists not wearing their seat belts and uninsured or unregistered vehicles.
With files from Shallima Maharaj.