Alberta’s new distracted driving law is coming into effect on September 1.
The new law prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones for talking or texting and other actions, specifically:
- talking on a hand-held cellphone
- texting and/or e-mailing
- using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., mp3 players)
- manually entering information on GPS units
- reading printed material like a book or a magazine
- writing, printing or sketching
- personal grooming like combing your hair, applying makeup or brushing your teeth
- using a citizen’s band (CB) or two-way radio (some exemptions apply)
The following activities are still allowed to be conducted while driving:
- using a cellphone in hands-free mode – this means the device is not held in the driver’s hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device
- using an earphone — if it is used in a hands-free or voice-activated manner
- drinking beverages, such as coffee, water or pop
- eating a snack
- talking with passengers
- listening to a portable audio player — as long as it is set up before you begin driving
- using the following:
- a GPS navigation system — as long as the system is affixed to the vehicle and programmed before you begin driving or the system is voice activated. You cannot hold the unit or manually enter information while driving.
- a collision avoidance system
- a gauge, instrument, device or system that provides information about the vehicle’s systems or the vehicle’s location
- a dispatch system for transporting passengers
- a logistical transportation tracking system that tracks vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of goods for commercial purposes
- calling emergency services, such as 911 with a hand-held cellphone
- using a hand-held citizen’s band (CB) or two-way radio when escorting oversized vehicles, to contact one’s employer, or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations.
Drivers engaged in any of the restricted activities can be charged even if their driving performance appears unaffected. The fine is $172 for this offence. There are no demerit points. Drivers could face additional charges if they commit other violations such as running a red light or making an improper lane change. This legislation also complements the current driving without due care and attention law, an offence with a fine of $402 and six demerit points.
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