Distracted driving legislation passes

By MorinvilleNews.com Staff

Edmonton – The province gave third reading to what it believes is Canada’s most comprehensive distracted driving legislation Wednesday. Bill 16, the Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010, was introduced in April of this year and restricts the use of hand-held cell phones and other electronic devices while driving as well as other activities, including reading, writing and personal grooming.

“This is a great day for traffic safety in our province,” said Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette in a release Wednesday. “This legislation is a bold approach and goes beyond restricting cell phones and deals with the broader issue of distracted driving. Our message is clear: Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”

The legislation permits the use of hands-free phones and radio communication devices, including CB radios are allowed for commercial purposes and search and rescue services.
Drivers may also use hand-held devices to contact emergency services.

Additionally, the new legislation allows drivers to drink, eat, smoke and talk to other passengers in the vehicle while driving. However, prohibited activities extend to periods when drivers are stopped at a red light, delayed in traffic or waiting for a train to cross. Drivers looking to text or have a quick shave will need to be parked or off the roadway.

Former police officer and current MLA for Calgary-Hays, Art Johnston, who sponsored the legislation, said he was pleased the province is taking action on distracted driving.
“Anything we can do to improve safety provides tremendous benefits to Albertans,” he said.”
The new legislation carries with it a proposed fine of $172 with no demerit points; however, drivers caught distracted driving could face compounded charges if they commit other traffic violations, including running a red light or making an improper lane change. The current driving with undue care and attention law levies a $402 fine and six demerit points.
The legislation will come into effect upon proclamation, but it is anticipated the new law will take full effect by the summer of 2011. In the interim the province plans to launch a public education and awareness campaign to help Albertans understand the legislation.

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