Alberta RCMP issue May long weekend warning after recording 17 traffic deaths so far this month

Click to play video: 'RCMP worried about rising number of deaths on Alberta roads'
RCMP worried about rising number of deaths on Alberta roads
WATCH ABOVE: The RCMP says there have been an alarming number of deaths on Alberta's roads this month. Seventeen people have lost their lives in collisions and Mounties are concerned that number could rise over the busy May long weekend. Kent Morrison has more – May 19, 2016

RCMP are warning drivers to be cautious when travelling during the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend, warning the province has already recorded 17 traffic deaths this month in RCMP jurisdictions. More than half of those fatal collisions occurred during daylight hours, and according to police, seven of those who died were under the age of 20.

“A lot of times most of these accidents could be prevented so that’s the hard part from our perspective,” RCMP Sgt. Jack Poitras said. “A small bit of attention on the road could have prevented these accidents.”

Two motorcyclists died after being hit by motorists who failed to notice them. Four charges have been laid in connection to the fatal crashes, while investigations into several others continue.

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“Seventeen murders over a two-week period would cause most Albertans to sit up and ask what’s going on,” RCMP Superintendent Ian Lawson said.

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Last year, four people were killed in motor vehicle collisions within RCMP jurisdictions in Alberta over the Victoria Day weekend.

RCMP patrol roads throughout most of Alberta, but do not provide police service or count traffic fatalities in seven municipalities (Calgary, Camrose, Edmonton, Lacombe, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Taber) and three First Nations (Lakeshore, Tsuut’ina Nation, Blood Tribe).

Alberta RCMP will be teaming up with provincial sheriffs to perform rolling check stops around the province this weekend.

Impaired driving remains a strong focus of enforcement, but there is also increased attention on distracted driving. According to RCMP, drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to cause an accident serious enough to cause injury.

“They’ll have members or ‘spotters’, if you call them, on the side of the road to let us know who is on the phone or doing other things,” Poitras said.

Distracted driving includes using a cell phone, GPS, eating and anything that takes your eyes off the road.

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