New distracted driving law this fall

The most comprehensive distracted driving legislation in Canada will soon be implemented in our province.

Alberta’s new distracted driving law will come into effect on Sept. 1.

“I think this is the sign of the times and the issues that we’re seeing with technology,” said Red Deer City RCMP Supt. Brian Simpson. “It’s a new tool that our officers can use. This is something that is an issue in our community.”

Currently, drivers who are distracted behind the wheel can be charged with undo care and attention.

“This carries a significant fine and it’s six demerit points,” said Simpson.

To help Albertans prepare for the new law, the government will run a public education and awareness campaign that will provide information about the distracted driving law and how to comply with it. Advertising will run in newspapers, radio and online.

The new law prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones for talking or texting, the use of other electronic devices, reading, writing and personal grooming while driving. Drivers can still use cell phones 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. “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 practicing safer driving habits today.”

Frequently asked questions and answers about the new law, a poster, fact sheet and more are available on the Alberta Transportation web site at www.transportation.alberta.ca/distracteddriving.htm.

“This new legislation is really garnering a lot of attention and it’s impacting drivers to think twice about what they’re doing,” said Simpson.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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