Distracted drivers will have another option to deal with tickets.

Okotoks RCMP and Okotoks Municipal Enforcement have partnered to bring the "Option Four" program to town, which allows individuals caught distracted driving to educate themselves instead of paying a fine.

Sergeant Darren Turnbull, acting Commander of the Okotoks RCMP, says when somebody receives a ticket they generally have three options; pay the fine, dispute it, or meet with a prosecutor to work out a resolution.

He says individuals, particularly youth, now have access to "Option Four" if deemed eligible.

"If they've been given a ticket for distracted driving the officer at the side of the road can make a decision, and say you might benefit from a seminar more than just a $287 fine and three demerit points. They offer it up, you still have the first three options, but you can look at option four which is taking a seminar."

Once the seminar is completed at Speeders Indoor ProKarts, RCMP will ask the Crown to drop any charges.

The seminar includes presentations from multiple people about the laws and science of distracted driving.

A young woman named Melody Battle also speaks at the seminars.

She suffered a traumatic brain injury after rear ending a road grader at highway speeds while distracted driving.

Turnbull says Battle had received a distracted driving ticket in Okotoks just months before her accident and he believes a testimonial from someone close to home is impactful.

"By giving them a face to the consequence of distracted driving, where they can remember Melody, and have the opportunity to talk to her and see for real what could happen to them, it's more than just a traffic ticket, it's more than what you do to yourself; it's what you do to your friends, your family," Turnbull says. "The consequences can be life changing and life ending."

"Option Four" will be a one-time opportunity for those caught distracted driving.

Repeat offenders will receive the regular $287 ticket and three demerit points.

Turnbull hopes the new program will help curb the leading cause of serious injury and fatal collisions.

"We really need to help educate the youth of the dangers of distracted driving," Turnbull says. "We've done a really good job over the years of educating the public about alcohol and impaired driving, and we've seen those rates slowly coming down over the years. We've got a new killer out there, it's the cell phone when you're driving, so we need to change the perspective of the young drivers."

 

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