Friday, 2 September 2011

The Ins and Outs of Alberta's New Distracted Driving Legislation

In the last Insurance Experts post, we looked briefly at Alberta's new distracted driving legislation, and outlined a few tips for avoiding distracted driving. Today, we're going to look at the nuts and bolts of the legislation and exactly the kinds of behaviour that are covered under it.

What activities are not allowed? 
Under the new legislation, talking on a hand-held phone, texting, using a portable gaming device, programming an mp3 player, manually entering information on a GPS, reading a book, writing, drawing, grooming and brushing your teeth are explicitly prohibited. You are permitted to use hands-free mobile devices if you need to communicate while in the car, and eating small snacks and drinking beverages is allowed if it does not significantly divert your attention from the road. The legislation aims to curb drivers who willingly put others at risk by diverting their attention away from the road.

Who does the legislation apply to?
Bill 16 applies to all vehicles outlined in the Traffic Safety Act. Within the meaning of the Act, that means not only cars, vans, SUVs, commercial vehicles and motorbikes, but also bicycles! Bicycles, while smaller and more vulnerable than motor vehicles, can still cause major accidents and so it is important that cyclists be focused on the road at all times.

Where does it apply?
The new legislation applies to all "highways", as outlined in the Traffic Safety Act. Now, before you start to think the law only applies to major intercity freeways like the Trans-Canada and Highway 2, "highways" are defined in the legislation as any urban or rural route which the public typically access by vehicles. This means streets, roads, parking lots, alleys and even sidewalks.

If you have any more questions regarding the legislation, feel free to comment on this post. We will get to your questions immediately!