Distracted driving is against the law in Alberta.
Drivers are not allowed to engage in any activity that distracts them from the operation of the vehicle, even while stopped at a red light. Restricted activities include, but are not limited to:
- Holding, viewing, or manipulating a cell phone or other communication device - this includes texting, emailing, or holding the phone while speaking (holding a phone that is on speaker is not the same as hands-free mode!)
- Holding, viewing, or manipulating hand-held electronic devices like tablet computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays, and portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
- Entering information into GPS units
- Reading printed materials
- Writing, printing, or sketching
- Personal grooming (brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails, shaving, etc.)
You can be charged with distracted driving if you are doing any of the above activities, even if your driving performance does not appear to be affected.
WHAT'S STILL ALLOWED?
Drivers can still engage in the following activities, provided they are not distracting the driver from operating the vehicle:
- Using a hand-held cell phone ONLY if calling emergency response (911)
- Using a cell phone in hands-free mode
- Drinking a beverage or eating a snack
- Talking to passengers
- Using a 2-way or CB radio when required to do so for employment purposes
- Using a GPS that is either voice-activated or programmed BEFORE you begin driving. The GPS device must be secured to the vehicle and not held in the driver's hand.
Remember, police have the discretion to lay charges if you are engaging in any activity that distracts you from your ability to drive safely. Keep your focus on the road and pull over to park if you will be doing anything that might take your attention away from driving safely.
WHAT ABOUT PETS?
Since police have the discretion to lay charges if you are engaged in activities that impair your ability to drive safely, you could be charged with distracted driving if you are distracted by your pet.
In addition, say your pet was in your lap. You could also be charged for allowing something to occupy the front seat of your vehicle, interfering with your access to the vehicle's controls and the safe operation of the vehicle. Or for allowing something to obstruct your clear vision.
For everyone's safety, it is recommended that pets are always secure in an appropriate pet carrier.
WHAT'S THE PENALTY?
$287 fine and three demerit points.
Find out more on the Alberta.ca Distracted Driving page.