Grooming while driving banned in Alberta

"Most comprehensive distracted driving legislation in Canada," says province
||Last Updated: 11/23/2010

Drivers in Alberta will soon face fines if caught reading printed materials, writing, drawing or sketching or “attending to personal hygiene or grooming” inside their vehicles while driving.

The Alberta government has passed distracted driving legislation in Canada it is calling the most comprehensive in Canada. Bill 16, the Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010, restricts the use of hand-held cellphones and activities such as texting, reading, writing and personal grooming, and it puts restrictions on other electronic devices while driving.

“This legislation is a bold approach and goes beyond restricting cellphones and deals with the broader issue of distracted driving,” said Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette. “Our message is clear: Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”

This legislation permits the use of hands-free phones in hands-free mode but electronic communication devices cannot be held or viewed while driving. However, drivers cannot hold, view or manipulate handheld or portable electronic devices.

A driver can also use a music or audio player but it must be programmed or set up in advance of driving so she is not manually typing or inputting information while driving. If the music player is connected to the vehicle sound system, drivers can use the vehicle controls to operate the MP3 player.

A GPS system can also be used but it must be programmed or set up in advance of driving so drivers are not manually typing or inputting information while driving. GPS units must be secured to the vehicle and only be controlled in a voice-activated manner while driving.

Radio communication devices such as CB radios are allowed for commercial purposes and search and rescue services. Drivers can also use hand-held devices to contact emergency services — such as 911 — and this legislation does not affect the official duties of emergency service personnel including law enforcement, fire and medical services.

The proposed fine for the distracted driving offence is $172 with no demerit points. This legislation complements the current “driving without due care and attention” law — with a fine of $402 and six demerit points.

This legislation will come into force upon proclamation and could take effect by the middle of 2011. In the coming months, the province will launch a public education and awareness campaign to help Albertans understand the details of the legislation. More information can be found at

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