Distracted Driving in Alberta
There’s no denying it – the laws governing distracted driving in Alberta are here to stay – and for good reason. This bad habit causes millions of collisions every year in North America, and many of those are unfortunately fatal.Drivers of many types of vehicles on rural and urban roads can be fined for distracted driving: cars, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, truck tractors, farm vehicles, and bicycles.
What is Distracted Driving in Alberta?
In Alberta, distracted driving includes the following activities:
- talking on hand-held cell phones
- texting or e-mailing
- playing video games
- writing, drawing or painting
- personal grooming
- entering information on to a GPS system
- referencing, adjusting or looking at any electronic devices like laptops, tablets or mp3 players
- reading printed materials
- having your vision of the road compromised by a pet
- being distracted by a pet in the front seat, on the driver’s lap, or in the vehicle
Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act
Alberta’s Ministry of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Act is Alberta’s source for distracted driving regulations.
Lesser-Known Instances of Distracted Driving
Reading a quick text message while waiting for your chai tea latte?
A fast catch-up on e-mailing, even when stopped at a red light?
While some may feel there is some ambiguity around distracted driving while in a drive-thru or while stopped at a red light, the truth of the matter is that it both situations are indeed included and could lead to a distracted driving charge.
Permitted Activities While Driving
While the activities outlined above constitute distracted driving, there are a number of activities that are permitted while driving, to the extent that they do not compromise the driver’s ability to focus on the road.
These interesting exceptions include:
- drinking a coffee or other beverage
- eating a granola bar or other snack
- making a call using a voice-activated feature on a phone in hands free mode
- smoking a cigarette
- listening to music with earphones
- making an emergency phone call to 9-1-1
For a complete list of activities permitted while driving, see FAQ Sheet here.
Startling Facts About Distracted Driving
- Reading a text message while driving distracts a driver for a minimum of five seconds each time. This means that the chances of an accident occurring while reading a text is extremely high.
- It takes an average of three seconds after a driver’s mind is taken off the road for any road accident to occur. This is the bare minimum amount of time it takes, and it is surprisingly small. Three seconds is the time it takes to turn your ignition when starting your car.
- Each year, over 330,000 accidents caused by texting while driving lead to severe injuries. This means that over 78 per cent of all distracted drivers are distracted because they have been texting while driving.
- Texting and driving is six times more likely to get you in an accident than drunk driving. That’s right, it is actually safer for someone to get wasted and get behind the wheel than to text and do it.
- Every day, 11 teenagers die because they were texting while driving.
- 94 per cent of teenagers understand the consequences of texting and driving, but 35 per cent of them admitted that they do it anyway.
What are the Penalties for Distracted Driving in Alberta?
The penalties for distracted driving may and could include:
- Steep Fines – offenders may receive either one or two tickets, with fines starting at $287
- Demerit Points – offenders may receive either one or two tickets, and 3 to 6 demerit points
- Missed Events – drivers pulled over for distracted driving may be late or miss important events
- Injury or Fatality – distracted driving continues to result in an astonishing number of injuries and fatalities
- Jail Time – should a driver who is found to be distracted end up injuring or killing another individual, they may face incarceration
- Lifelong Guilt and Shame – an individual who finds themselves in a collision due to distracted driving causing injury or death may deal with serious emotional issues
What is the Fine for Distracted Driving in Alberta?
Individuals charged with distracted driving in Alberta will be handed a pricy penalty; that is, a whopping $287 fine.
In the case that the police officer laying the charges finds the driver to have been exhibiting an even more serious threat or risk, they may also fine the driver an additional $402 for Driving Carelessly.
Demerit Points for Distracted Driving in Alberta
Drivers who are found to be driving distracted will have 3 demerit points put on to their record.
Individuals charged with Driving Carelessly will receive 6 demerit points.