Distracted Driving in Alberta

Distracted Driving in Alberta: What’s Forbidden Under the Legislation?

The dangers posed by distracted driving have gained a lot of attention in recent years. As a result, all 10 Canadian provinces now have some form of distracted driving legislation. In this article we’ll cover Alberta-specific laws pertaining to distracted driving.

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.

In Alberta, the fine for distracted driving is currently $300 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 in Alberta. 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 and are not considered distracted driving. Use of citizen band (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 in Alberta (and all other provinces for that matter) 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.

Feel free to reach out to Calgary car accident lawyers at Zhivov Law if you have questions.