Alberta distracted driving law unveiled

albert distracted driving law image with flagAlberta would no longer be “Canada’s traffic-safety donkey” under long-delayed legislation that would tackle distracted driving.

The province’s Tory government called the plan “some of the most comprehensive distracted driving legislation in Canada.”

Bill 16, introduced April 14, would outlaw drivers’ use of handheld cell phones (hands-free OK), as well as PDAs and other handheld electronic communications devices. Texting would be included in forbidden activities.

Alberta’s distracted driving legislation includes a ban on “personal grooming” while driving. While frequently cited (by dubious lawmakers) during distracted driving debates in North America, this is one of the few measures to seriously propose such a ban.

“Drivers can be distracted behind the wheel for many reasons other than talking on their phone,” said MLA Art Johnston, who introduced the bill. “This legislation goes beyond a simple hand-held cellphone ban.”

Also prohibited for drivers would be non-commercial use of CB radios, writing, drawing, sketching and non-transportation-related video screen watching.

(Update) A day later, the government raised the possibility that enforcement might be secondary if the law is approved — meaning police need another reason to pull over drivers before issuing a citation.

Alberta had been criticized by safety groups and some legislators for dragging its feet on distracted driving legislation while other provinces took action.

The Calgary Sun editorialized in January: “The Stelmach government keeps dangling the carrot (of distracted driving laws), and then yanking it away. … Alberta … is set to become Canada’s traffic-safety donkey once again.” The paper cited fear of drops in popularity polls as one reason for the delays.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach cited a “busy agenda” as the reason no distracted driving legislation was proposed for 2009.

Strathcona County (east of capital Edmonton) has the province’s only law against driving while cell phoning and text messaging.

MLA Johnston, Calgary-Hays, is a former policeman who has been pushing for distracted driving for years. “I appreciate the great input of law enforcement and traffic safety stakeholders that has led to the introduction of this legislation,” he said. “This is a complex issue and I believe we have found a good balance between enforcement and safety.”


  1. Actually Tony and Keith, the research is quite clear on the effects of cell phone use and reaction time, etc. One recent study showed that texting and driving is as bad as drinking and driving for reaction time. This has nothing to do with “freedom to choose” (I can’t believe you know how to turn on a computer if you really believe that). Driving is a responsibility, not a right (it’s not in the Charter, buddies), and you wishing to endanger those around you is not a “choice” – to suggest that is asinine. There are laws that are necessary, they are reasonable, deal with it.

  2. Tony Poirier says:

    Perhaps one of the most absurd of the newest set of Big Brother bylaws ever introduced (And Lord knows, we’ve been inundated with them.) Texting is one thing, being an idiot is in the same vein, but simply “talking to someone”? You know what should be banned well ahead of “handsfree” cell-phones?

    Babies. Yes, that’s right, I said it loud and I say it with no forgiveness. Babies are by far a much more louder and aggravating distraction than say… putting on make-up. Many will holler at this “inconcievable” truth, but what say we ban all passengers completely. Big Brother will see to it that we can completely destroy any and ALL distractions from one bylaw to the next. Children are by far the worst distraction a vehicle driver can ever endure, and yet, we pick on the new and unknown forces of the dreaded cell-phone.

    Stop it people, before you’re ticketed $1500.00 because you’re reaching over your back seat to stop your sissy, never-been-spanked, hooligan spoiled children from complaining about who started whatever!!!!

  3. YEESH…what’s next???

    Kiss another freedom to choose good-bye…

  4. Lawrence says:

    I just saw a guy tail gating the fellow in front of him while doing 110 KPH on the Deerfoot with his BlackBerry on his face two handed texting.

    Yes Keith, we need the government to regulate us as from the example you can see, some of us are NOT smart enough to think for them selves.

  5. Angela Jacobson says:

    How would I get access to posters, videos, collateral about the new distracted driving legistration if I wanted to share it at a health and safety event?

  6. And you sheep are O.K with this? We are living in a police state, and all you people are like “oh, please regulate us government, please take away our rights and tell us what we can and cannot do, because we are too stupid to do it ourselves.” bleck.

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