Alberta introduces extensive distracted driving legislation

Bill 16 would ban use of hand-held cellphones as well as personal grooming while driving

While several jurisdictions in Canada have taken steps to ban the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving, Alberta has stepped up the fight against distracted driving by proposing to ban other activities such as applying makeup.

Bill 16, the Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010, proposes a ban on the use of hand-held cellphones and activities such as texting, reading, writing, personal grooming, and puts restrictions on using other electronic devices while driving.

“This legislation is a practical, effective and enforceable approach to the issue of distracted driving,” said Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette. “We are sending a strong safety message to all Albertans: When you’re in your vehicle, your focus must be on driving.”

The bill proposes a fine of $172 with no demerit points. Drivers engaged in any of the identified activities can be charged under this amendment. A distracted driver could face additional charges if they commit other violations such as running a red light or making an improper lane change.

Bill 16 would still allow the use of hands-free phones. Also, radio communications such as CB radios would be allowed for commercial purposes and search and rescue services. Drivers could use hand-held devices to contact emergency services and this legislation would not affect the official duties of emergency service personnel including enforcement, fire and medical services.

The bill will be debated in the legislature this fall.

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