Distracted Driving in Alberta
Many MVA claims involve distracted driving – what amazes me is how many drivers tell me during Questioning that they really didn’t understand the law – so here it is –
As of January 1, 2016, the fine for breaking the distracted driving law is a $287 fine AND 3 demerit points.
If a driver is exhibiting more risky behaviour, they can be charged with driving carelessly and receive a fine of $402 and six demerit points.
While driving (including drive-thrus), it is illegal to:
- Use a hand-held phone while talking, texting and/or e-mailing
- Operate electronic devices like video players and laptops
- Manually program GPS units or portable audio players
- Read or write
- Engage in personal grooming
Drivers are allowed to use hands-free mobile devices that are activated by a single touch or voice activated, eat a snack, drink a beverage, smoke, or talk with a passenger while driving.
Please know that a pet occupying the front seat, or on the lap of a driver could be charged with distracted driving if the driver appears to be too involved with his/her pet. A driver could also be charged for a pet occupying the front seat of a vehicle such that the pet interferes with the driver’s access to the vehicle controls and the safe operation of the vehicle. [TSA 115.2 (i)] A driver could also be charged if a pet obstructs the driver’s clear vision in any direction. [TSA 115.2(j)]
The public should not call 911 to report distracted drivers unless there is a significant risk and the driver is displaying erratic behaviour. Members of the public can report a distracted driver to their local Community Station. The complainant must be able to identify the driver, vehicle and be willing to testify as a witness in court.