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 $100 to $400, 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 $172. Unlike some provinces, Alberta does not impose demerits for distracted driving.

What types of activities are forbidden under Alberta’s distracted driving legislation? They include the following:

  • Talking on a hand-held phone
  • Texting or e-mailing
  • Entering data on a GPS device
  • Using other electronic devices such as laptops, cameras and video game units
  • Reading books, magazines, etc.
  • Writing or sketching
  • Personal grooming

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 legislation here.