Young drivers were put to the test Friday in a challenge demonstrating how even the smallest distraction can be disastrous.

In the latest effort by police to deter distracted driving, teens were invited to Castrol Raceway for a closed circuit distracted driving challenge on Friday, working their way through the course while multi-tasking.

“Most people think distraction is texting on a cell phone or talking on a cell phone but it includes a whole lot more such as drinking water, drinking coffee, eating finger food, putting lipstick on for ladies, chapstick for the guys, ” said Rick Lang with the Alberta Motor Association.

Students drove through the obstacle course with their full attention on the road once, then did a second lap while a driving instructor directed students to put on chapstick, open water battles or change the radio station, in an effort to show how easy it is to lose control while driving.

Although the distracted driving law went into effect in Alberta almost two years ago, police say drivers aren’t getting it – in fact, it appears distracted driving is even getting worse.

Edmonton police officers say already this year they’ve given nearly 2,000 distracted driving tickets.

“It can be anything from eating, drinking, dealing with your children in the back seat, anything that takes your attention away from the task at hand, which is driving,” said Acting S/Sgt. Kelly Rosnau with the Edmonton Police Service.

“We all know that if we’re able to do something repeatedly without any dire consequence we’ll continue to do that and we have a false sense of security. I think what we have is people haven’t been in a collision while they’re texting and driving or dealing with something else and driving, so ‘I can do it’ is the attitude.”

Last month, police chief Rod Knecht called for harsher penalties to discourage distracted driving.

Currently, those caught driving distracted can face a fine of $172.

Police say that’s not doing enough to deter distracted driving and think adding demerits for violations would be more effective.

It’s an option the government has considered but says currently the focus is raising awareness and educating drivers.

The Alberta Motor Association says 85 per cent of all crashes have to do with drivers making mistakes that can be deadly.

“The question is, is it going to be the little kid in front of you? Is it another vehicle in front of you slamming on the brakes? All of those things in distracted driving can result in a collision,” Lang said.

It’s those deadly consequences that prompted police and AMA to work with students from several high schools on a video project called ‘What are you doing behind the wheel?’

Each student team created a short video about the dangers of distracted driving.

Click here to view the videos on

Each student team created a short video about the dangers of distracted driving.

Rosnau hopes officers will begin seeing less distracted driving offences with the help of more education and awareness campaigns like Your Pledge and Friday's distracted driving challenge.

“When you’re driving a car, every second counts,” he said.

“Put your phone down. Focus on the task at hand. Nothing is so urgent that it has to be dealt with right now.”

With files from Jeff Harrington