Edmonton, April 14, 2010 – The Alberta government has introduced some of the most comprehensive distracted driving legislation in Canada. Bill 16, the Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010, proposes a ban on the use of hand-held cell phones and activities like 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 will also complement the current driving without due care and attention law�a serious offence with a fine of $402 and six demerit points� by giving law enforcement agencies more flexibility in dealing with a wider range of behaviours.
“I am pleased with the efforts that have been made on bringing forward a piece of legislation that strives to make our roads safer,” said Art Johnston, Calgary-Hays MLA who introduced the legislation. “I appreciate the great input of law enforcement and traffic safety stakeholders that has led to the introduction of this legislation. This is a complex issue and I believe we have found a good balance between enforcement and safety.”
Bill 16 would 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.
“This is a great step forward for traffic safety in our province,” said Frank Oberle, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. “Bill 16 is part of a comprehensive law enforcement strategy to help continue reducing fatalities and injuries on our road ways.”
The proposed legislation is expected to be debated in the legislature this fall. This will give the public and traffic safety stakeholders an opportunity to view Bill 16 and provide comments and feedback. Go to www.transportation.alberta.ca for more information.