In January 2016, the Province of Alberta enacted distracted driving legislation in an effort to create a safer driving environment. The restrictions to drivers are as follows:
- No use of hand-held cell phones
- No texting or e-mailing (even when stopped at red lights)
- No using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
- No entering information on GPS units
- No reading printed materials in the vehicle
- No writing, printing or sketching
- No personal grooming (brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving)
Violations of this legislation come along with a $287 fine and cost drivers 3 demerit points if convicted. Prior to 2016, no demerit points were attached to such offences, rather only a fine was rendered.
However, the addition of demerit points has not seen a reduction in distracting driving convictions in Alberta. The province recently released statistics on the convictions in this area and from 2015 to 2016 the number of conviction in Alberta remained nearly identical with around 27,000 convictions in each year. The preliminary numbers in 2017 show the potential for a very modest decline, if anything. Of specific note, is that texting and driving convictions are on the rise.
In practicing personal injury law, it has become increasingly common to meet with clients that have been impacted as victims, having been involved in accidents caused by distracted drivers. These accidents change lives for the victims and their families. Be smart behind the wheel. Wait until you are at your destination before grabbing your phone.