Alberta’s Distracted Driving Laws (Bill 16) in Force on Sept. 1. 2011 after Public Awareness Campaign

Update: see previous posts – June 6, 2011 New Brunswick Tougher Distracted Driving Laws Go Into Effect Today, June 6, 2011 Cellphones May Be Carcinogenic and Increase the Risk of Brain Cancer, November 17, 2010 Bill 16, the Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010 (Alberta), October 4, 2010 Albertans are Most Distracted Driver’s in Canada, May 16, 2010 Cell Phone Use causes Brain Cancer, April 15 Bill 16, Alberta’s “Distracted Driving Legislation”, 2010, May 15, 2011 – OPP Blitz – Monday, May 16 to Monday, May 22, 2011 (7 days) Distracted Driving Enforcement, March 18, 2011 Women Can’t Last Week without Cell/Smart Phone, Smart Digital Camera, MP3 Players, October 31, 2010 914 Cell Phone Charges Laid, Cell Phone Use causes Brain Cancer, Cell Phone Ban has Netted Thousands of Tickets in Toronto, Cell Phone Ban to be Aggressively Enforced on February 1, 2010, O.P.P Laying Numerous Cellphone Charges before February 1, 2010Cell Phone Ban effective October 26, 2009 on Ontario’s highways, streets & roads, Restrictions on Cell Phones in Motor Vehicle

New distracted driving law comes into effect on Thursday, September 1, 2011.

Alberta Coat of Arms - The country's toughest distracted driving laws (Bill 16) will come into force on Thursday, September 1, 2011 after the Alberta Provincial Government puts on Public Education and Awareness Campaign.

The most comprehensive distracted driving legislation in Canada will soon be implemented in our province. Alberta’s new distracted driving law will come into effect on Thursday, September 1, 2011.

“This legislation is another step forward in our traffic safety efforts and an important addition to our overall traffic safety strategy,” said Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette. “I am confident this new law, which is practical and enforceable, will help to keep Albertans safer while on the road and that’s something we can all support. We all have a role to play in traffic safety and I encourage Albertans to start practising safer driving habits today.”

To help Albertans prepare for the new law, the government will run a public education and awareness campaign that will provide information about the distracted driving law and how to comply with it. Advertising will run in newspapers, radio and online.

“During my 25-year career with the Calgary Police Service, I saw countless collisions and the often devastating consequences,” said Art Johnston, MLA, Calgary-Hays and sponsor of the bill.  “I have been advocating for this legislation and am pleased to see Alberta’s new distracted driving law come into effect. I would like to thank law enforcement and our traffic safety partners for their support.”

The new law prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones for talking or texting, the use of other electronic devices, reading, writing and personal grooming while driving. &nbspDrivers can still use cellphones or radio communication devices, but only if they use them in a hands-free or voice-activated manner. This means the device is not held in the driver’s hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device. Drivers may use a hand-held citizen’s band (CB) or two-way radio when escorting oversized vehicles, to contact one’s employer, or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations.

“This legislation gives law enforcement agencies in Alberta an additional tool to help make our roads safer,” said Frank Oberle, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. “We are sending an extremely strong traffic safety message to motorists across the province: When you’re in your vehicle, your focus must be on driving.”

Several international studies show that 20 to 30 per cent of all collisions involve driver distraction, and distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers.

“This legislation is an example of Alberta’s firm commitment to driver safety,” says Verlyn Olson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “This legislation will raise awareness about the importance of distraction free driving, making roadways safer for all Albertans.”

Frequently asked questions and answers about the new law, a poster, fact sheet and more are available on the Alberta Transportation website: www.transportation.alberta.ca/distracteddriving.htm

The Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act 2010 and accompanying distracted driving regulation are available on the Alberta Queen’s Printer website:  www.qp.alberta.ca

 

 

Bill 16 – Distracted Driving Legislation

Distracted Driving Law in Effect on Thursday, September 1, 2011

Highlights:

  • Restricts drivers from:

    • using hand-held cell phones
    • texting or e-mailing
    • using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
    • entering information on GPS units
    • reading printed materials in the vehicle
    • writing, printing or sketching, and
    • personal grooming
  • Complements the current driving without due care and attention legislation
  • Applies to all vehicles as defined by the Traffic Safety Act, including bicycles
  • Applies to all roads in both urban and rural areas of the province
  • The fine for this new offence is $172

 

 

Distracted driving legislation

Highlights:

  • Restricts drivers from holding/using hand-held/portable communication/entertainment devices such as cell phones, laptops or MP3 players while driving
  • Restricts drivers from reading, writing or attending to personal hygiene or grooming while driving
  • Complements the current driving without due care and attention legislation
  • Applies to all vehicles as defined by the Traffic Safety Act
Activity / DeviceLegislation
Cell phone use
  • A driver must not hold, view or manipulate an electronic communication device that can send or receive phone calls, electronic data, electronic mail or text messages.
  • A driver may use a cell phone in hands-free mode.
Use of personal digital assistant (PDA) devices
  • A driver must not hold, view or manipulate an electronic communication device that can send or receive phone calls, electronic data, electronic mail or text messages.
  • A driver may use the cell phone function of a PDA in hands-free mode.
Hand-held wireless or electronic devices
  • A driver must not hold, view or manipulate a hand-held or portable electronic device.
Use of radio communication devices (e.g. CB radios, Mike technology)
  • Drivers may only &nbspuse radio communication devices if:
  • they are drivers of escort, pilot or trail vehicles and are using a radio communication device for the purpose set out in the regulation.
  • using the radio communication device to contact their employer, where that employee is required to maintain radio contact with his or her employer.
  • using the radio communication device for the purpose of participating in a search, rescue or emergency management situation.
  • Drivers may use radio communication devices in hands-free mode.
Contacting emergency response units
  • Drivers may use hand held phones to contact emergency response units.
Portable audio players
(e.g., MP3 and other
Music/Audio Players)
  • A driver may use a music/audio player but it must be programmed or set up in advance of driving so that drivers are not manually typing or inputting information while driving.
  • If the music player is connected to the vehicle sound system drivers may use the vehicle controls to operate the MP3 player.
GPS navigation systems
  • A driver may use a GPS system but it must be programmed or set up in advance of driving so that drivers are not manually typing or inputting information while driving.
  • GPS units must be secured to the vehicle and may only be controlled in a voice-activated manner while driving.
Video display screens
  • A driver may not permit a video display screen to be activated and within view of that driver unless the screen is:
    • a GPS navigation device being used to obtain navigation information,
    • a cellular telephone being used in hands-free mode,
    • a logistical transportation tracking system device used to track vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of packages or other goods for commercial purposes,
    • a dispatch system used for the transportation of passengers,
    • a collision avoidance system device when used to provide collision avoidance information, or
    • an instrument, gauge, device or system that is used to provide information to the individual regarding the status of various systems and position of the vehicle.
Logistical Transportation Tracking Systems and Dispatch Systems
  • Drivers are restricted from holding, viewing or manipulating these systems while driving. Drivers must program them before they begin driving.
  • However, these systems are permitted in vehicles that require them for commercial purposes.
Reading
  • Drivers are restricted from reading printed materials inside the vehicle while driving.
Writing
  • Drivers are restricted from writing, drawing or sketching while driving.
Grooming
  • Drivers are restricted from attending to personal hygiene or grooming while driving.

Fines and penalties:

Driver GroupProposed Penalty
This legislation applies to all drivers of all vehicles as defined by the Traffic Safety Act.  This includes vehicles like cars, minivans, trucks, motorcycles, motor homes, truck tractors as well as bicycles.
  • $172 fine, no demerits.

The most frequently asked question regarding the new law is whether pets are specifically addressed by the law. Here’s the answer! In situations where the driver becomes too involved with their pet, police could reasonably argue that the distraction is comparable to the specifically banned activities of reading, writing and grooming and lay a charge.

Also, existing legislation – Traffic Safety Act 115(2)(i) – allows police to charge a driver who permits anything, including a pet, to occupy the front seat of the vehicle such that it interferes with the driver’s access to the vehicle controls and the safe operation of the vehicle.  Further, Traffic Safety Act 115(2)(j) – allows police to charge a driver who permits anything, including a pet, to cause any obstruction to the driver’s clear vision in any direction. We encourage the continued use of these existing provisions.

If a driver violates a new distracted driving provision and an existing provision in the Traffic Safety Act it would be up to the discretion of the officer as to if one or both charges would apply.

For the safety of both pets and road users, it is best if pets are secured in an appropriate pet carrier.

 

Go to www.transportation.alberta.ca for more information on Alberta’s new distracted driving legislation.

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2 comments

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