Drumheller RCMP are prepared for the most comprehensive distracted driving legislation to come into effect on September 1, which will see a ban on a number of activities while drivers are behind the wheel.
The new law prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones for talking or texting, the use of other electronic devices, reading, writing and personal grooming while driving.
The September 1 date was announced on Wednesday, June 22.
Drivers can still use cellphones or radio communication devices, but only if they use them in a hands-free or voice-activated manner. This means the device is not held in the driver’s hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device. Drivers may use a hand-held citizen’s band (CB) or two-way radio when escorting oversized vehicles, to contact one’s employer, or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations.
“This legislation is another step forward in our traffic safety efforts and an important addition to our overall traffic safety strategy,” said Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette in a press release on June 22. “I am confident this new law, which is practical and enforceable, will help to keep Albertans safer while on the road and that’s something we can all support. We all have a role to play in traffic safety and I encourage Albertans to start practising safer driving habits today.”
Several international studies show that 20 to 30 per cent of all collisions involve driver distraction, and distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers, says the Alberta government.
“This legislation gives law enforcement agencies in Alberta an additional tool to help make our roads safer,” said Frank Oberle, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. “We are sending an extremely strong traffic safety message to motorists across the province: When you’re in your vehicle, your focus must be on driving.”
Under the new law, the following will not be allowed: talking on a hand-held cellphone; texting and/or e-mailing; using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., mp3 players); manually entering information on GPS units, reading printed material like a book or a magazine; writing, printing or sketching; personal grooming like combing your hair, applying makeup or brushing your teeth; using a citizen’s band (CB) or two-way radio (some exemptions apply).
Activities allowed while driving under this law will be: using a cellphone in hands-free mode - this means the device is not held in the driver’s hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device; using an earphone — if it is used in a hands-free or voice-activated manner; drinking beverages, such as coffee, water or pop; eating a snack; smoking; talking with passengers; listening to a portable audio player — as long as it is set up before you begin driving; using the following; a GPS navigation system — as long as the system is affixed to the vehicle and programmed before you begin driving or the system is voice activated. You cannot hold the unit or manually enter information while driving.; a collision avoidance system; a gauge, instrument, device or system that provides information about the vehicle’s systems or the vehicle’s location; a dispatch system for transporting passengers; a logistical transportation tracking system that tracks vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of goods for commercial purposes; calling emergency services, such as 911 with a hand-held cellphone; using a hand-held citizen’s band (CB) or two-way radio when escorting oversized vehicles, to contact one’s employer, or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations.