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Police conduct traffic safety operation in Cochrane

RCMP conduct a traffic safety operation in Cochrane. Thursday, November 8, 2018. (Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

(COCHRANE – 660 NEWS) — As the holidays approach, police are getting ready to do their road safety blitz around Alberta.

On Thursday, RCMP officers and Alberta Sheriffs teamed up in Cochrane to keep an eye out for distracted drivers and those not wearing a seatbelt.

“In Alberta, from 2012 to 2016, there were 341 people who died in motor vehicle collisions who were not wearing their seatbelt,” said Sgt. Darrin Turnbull, Traffic Advisory NCO for RCMP Southern Alberta.

Statistics show about 95 per cent of Albertans use a seatbelt, which is very good, but still means about 1 in 20 are not wearing one.

In this operation, an officer standing next to a tree used a scope to spot anybody not wearing a belt or appearing to be distracted.

When pointed out, another officer would stop them on the road to determine if further action is needed.

Some drivers received tickets, while others got some helpful advice. There is also a focus on car seats, to make sure children are properly secured in vehicles as well.

The officers are hoping to spread the message that paying attention behind the wheel is the best way to protect yourself.

“You can’t convince a driver of another vehicle not to run a stop sign,” said Turnbull. “You have to be doing stuff for yourself to keep yourself and your family safe.”

When it comes to distracted driving, police are just looking for cellphones. You could become distracted by a number of things such as a pet in the front seat, or food.

“I personally have seen people eating a bowl of soup with the left hand, a spoon in the right, and driving with their knees,” added Turnbull.

If you’re on the road and spot someone who may be distracted or otherwise driving dangerously, you are encouraged to call 911 through a hands-free device or pull over and give the information.

“That information will be shared to the RCMP and Alberta Sheriffs who are working in the area at that time. We are going to do our darnedest to find that vehicle,” said Turnbull.

No matter what, Turnbull said it all boils down to a simple message.

“Leave the phone alone. Pay attention when you’re driving. Things happen in front of you so very quickly.”