Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alberta Introduces Distracted Driving Legislation!

  Finally!  After so many false starts and delays, I was pleased to see that Art Johnston was finally able to introduce Bill 16 into the legislature today!  I had ranted about my frustrations about this delay on a previous post back in December entitled " Who Is Really Blocking Alberta's Cell Phone Law?"

This is the release from the Alberta Government Site:

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 for more information.

I have a good feeling that this bill will pass.  The fact that it has actually made it out of committee and onto the floor speaks volumes. It looks like the hard work they put into reworking the wording and enforcement provisions will pay off.  

 Great job Art Johnston! 


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  1. So does that mean cops have to stop using their laptops while driving?

  2. Its open season for the cops now.... Its literally giving them a license to print money.

    I'm all for making driving safer but a bill like this needs to be clearly defined in black and white. I'm sorry but this bill just has too much grey in it.

  3. My only real issue with this bill (when I first read about it a few months ago, so some things might have changed since then) was also stuff about drinking coffee, etc. I suppose the idea of my long distance truck driver partner not being allowed to take a sip of coffee on a 4 hour trip doesn't sit well with me. Some people really abuse their driving privileges but should everyone be forced to comply with a general 'distracted driver' legislation? I would like to know how far-reaching it will be.

    I am sick and tired of watching people turning corners and navigating busy roads with a phone stuck to their ear, but how far will the wording of the bill and any resulting law go?

    And as for the police, I watched one just 2 days ago cruise through a school zone 5 minutes after the bell had run at the end of the school day, and the entire time he was looking down and to the side at his open laptop. I was standing right at the corner waiting to cross and he did not even notice me or my big stroller or my 7 yr old daughter. Yesterday I watched another police officer driving around a corner and onto a busy street while doing the same thing. He glanced up and started to turn, then looked back down at his laptop again. I realize that sometimes police have to bend some rules, but if that's not 'distracted driving', I don't know what is!

  4. As a member of the CBA Legislative Review Committee, I've reviewed the bill myself for recommendations on drafting.. and, to be honest, it's window dressing.

    The police already have the ability to charge for driving without due care and attention - and the current draft would make it illegal to read the radio dial while driving.

    And it doesn't say anything about eating a whopper and sipping a coke while driving..

    So - my two cents?

    Well, firstly, it's really pissing off farther right of centre rural base which we're already having some stress with via the Wild Rose.. and seeing that some minor revision or even directives for enforcement to existing law could had the same effect - I don't really see the point in this.

    Practically, and politically, for the PC Party it's a loser.

  5. I think that bill is a very good thing. Texting well driving is just as bad as drinking and driving.

  6. I agree with this bill Codi. But its crap how cops bend the rules so they can use their laptops & put other people in danger....
    BUt also not being able to have like a sip of your coffee while driving is stupid, especially if you have like a long drive, cause falling asleep while driving is way more effing dangerous.

  7. @Shaannon
    "BUt also not being able to have like a sip of your coffee while driving is stupid, especially if you have like a long drive"

    "Despite popular opinion, turning up the radio, opening a window, drinking coffee, chewing gum or eating will not reduce driver fatigue..."