Is the Alberta Distracted Driving Bylaw a Cash Cow?

Posted by: Kenny Chan onAugust 30th, 2011
Calgary Police Sergeant Texting While Driving

Calgary Police Sargeant Texting While Driving (Photo by: forum member Jetta-2.0)

Starting this Thursday, Police in Alberta will be able to start issuing tickets under the Traffic Safety Act for distracted driving. On September 1, 2011 the amendment of Section 115 takes effect and will prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones to not only make calls but more importantly text or e-mail. The use of electronic devices such as laptops, portable gaming systems, video screens (portable or built into the vehicle) is also not allowed. While using a GPS will still be allowed, drivers will not be able to enter information into one while driving.

The new distracted driver bylaw does not stop there though. Reading, writing, drawing and personal grooming and hygiene are all on the “not allowed” list. Getting caught doing any of the above activities while operating a vehicle and it’ll cost you a nice $172. Notice the use of the word “vehicle”. That’s right, if you do any of the above while riding your bicycle, you could technically still be ticketed so put away that floss as you pedal down the pathways.

Will the distracted driving bylaw be effective as a road safety measure? Without demerit points to go with the fine, some drivers may find it worth the risk to continue doing what they do. On that same note, police officers knowing that the ticket does not have demerits may write more tickets as they know most people will not bother fighting the ticket as it will likely cost more to fight than to simply pay the fine.

Those in the insurance industry may be able to shed some light on this, but as a non-moving violation will drivers that get hit with this face higher insurance premiums? According to the Government of Alberta website, drivers that commit moving violations may get two tickets, one for the distracted driving and one for their moving violation. Police departments will be happy to hear they’ll be able to pick up an extra $150 in revenue each time they issue one of these tickets.

Some questions for you to ponder as we countdown to 9/1: Is eating a distraction? What about pets running around the vehicle? Can a conversation with a back seat passenger be a distraction? Is driving distracted worse or is driving while tired?

Drive safe! :)

Resources: Alberta Distracted Driving Legislation

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