The dangers posed by distracted driving have gained a lot of attention in recent years. As a result, all 10 provinces now have some form of distracted driving legislation.
Provincial fines for distracted driving range from $172.50 to several thousand dollars, depending on the province. In some provinces you also receive demerits for a distracted driving offence. The Canadian Automobile Association provides a breakdown of fines and demerits for various provinces here.
In Alberta, the fine for distracted driving is currently $287 and three demerit points. (There is no license suspension.)
What types of activities are forbidden under Alberta’s distracted driving legislation? They include the following:
- using hand-held cell phones
- texting or e-mailing
- using electronic devices such as laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players such as MP3 players
- entering information on GPS units
- reading printed materials in the vehicle
- writing, printing or sketching
- personal grooming such as brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving
What about having a pet next to you or on your lap? This is up to the discretion of the police officer. Under Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, police can charge a driver who allows anything to interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle or to obstruct the driver’s vision. This includes pets.
Many activities are still allowed. For example, you can still speak on a phone in hands-free mode, meaning it is activated by voice or a single touch. Eating snacks, drinking beverages and smoking are still allowed. Use of CB radios for certain commercial purposes is also allowed.
It is worth noting that a driver who commits a moving violation while engaging in distracted driving — such as running a red light while flossing their teeth — exposes themselves to (at least) two tickets. One of the tickets would be for distracted driving, the other(s) for the moving violation.
Of course, drivers who engage in distracted driving are also at increased risk of being in a motor vehicle collision (hence the legislation). If the other driver can prove you were engaged in distracted driving, this can have serious consequences for your liability in subsequent civil and/or criminal proceedings.
You can learn more about Alberta’s distracted driving law here.
Frequently asked questions
How many demerit points are taken for distracted driving in Alberta?
How much were distracted driving 2019 fines in Alberta?
What is considered distracted driving under Alberta distracted driving law?
1. using hand-held cell phones while driving, 2. texting or e-mailing while driving, 3. using electronic devices such as laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players such as MP3 players while driving, 4. entering information on GPS units while driving, 5. reading printed materials in the vehicle while driving, 6. writing, printing or sketching while driving, 7. personal grooming such as brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving while driving.