Teen drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to crash than other drivers. That’s the target of the City’s Selected Traffic Enforcement Program over the month of August.

Enforcement Services Sgt. Ross Gear says that while distracted driving is something that affects people of all ages it’s especially important for young drivers to be aware of the laws.

“During the month of August we will also being doing a little focus on our young drivers and if we see a young driver that’s using a device, the officer will take a minute and really talk to them about it and try to educate them as to the reason why its an important law.”

Distracted driving can be anything from using a cell phone or reading behind the wheel to people brushing their hair or putting on makeup. Gear says that distracted driving in some cases can be more dangerous than driving impaired.

“Distracted driving still is one of the main causes of collisions. Some studies have shown that in some cases it’s even more impairing than being impaired by alcohol or a drug.”

According to the Office of Traffic Safety in Alberta, one in five new drivers is involved in a collision during their first two years of driving. Gear says its hard to know exactly how many distracted driving incidents there have been in the City overall but says he hasn’t seen a noticeable increase.

“I don’t think that Grande Prairie is any different from any other community. I think its a problem in all of Alberta and probably nation-wide and that’s why we have campaigns and programs like this where we ask people to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving.”

The current penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is a $287 fine and three demerit points.