Motorists are being reminded to keep their hands on the wheel and attention on the roads.

Last year, Alberta RCMP integrated traffic units issued 7,611 distracted driving tickets.

This number has been on the rise since 2012.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a driver is eight times more likely to get into a motor vehicle accident when texting and four times more likely when talking on their phone, even when using a hands free device.

RCMP recommend the following safety tips to prevent distracted driving:

· Put your phone away. Use your cellphone only when your vehicle is parked in a safe place.

· Pull over. If you need to attend to kids or pets in the vehicle, find a safe spot to park before doing so.

· Set the temperature, mp3 players, radio, CD player or the GPS unit prior to leaving. You should make adjustments only when the vehicle is stopped.

· Make sure children are comfortable and properly buckled up before leaving. Prepare safe activities for the trip so they don't get restless.

· Know the itinerary before leaving. Do not attempt to read a map while driving.

· Finish grooming at home. Do not comb your hair, shave or apply make-up while driving.

· Do not read while driving. Put newspapers and other reading materials out of sight and out of reach so you won't be tempted.

· Ensure that there are no items in the vehicle that will slide around or tip over while the vehicle is in motion.

Alberta RCMP say that just over a month into 2018 and 147 distracted driving charges have already been issued.

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