The new Distracted Driving Legislation (Bill 16) has been in force in Alberta for just over 3 weeks now. I have been hearing a bit of confusion about the strictness of the legislation, the following answers were found on the Government of Alberta’s Transportation Website (http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/distracteddriving.htm)
What activities are not allowed while driving?
• talking on a hand-held cell phone
• using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., mp3 players)
• manually entering information on GPS units
• reading printed material like a book or a magazine
• writing, printing or sketching
• personal grooming like combing your hair, applying makeup or brushing your teeth
• using a 2-way radio or what is commonly referred to as a CB (Citizen’s Band) radio (some exemptions apply)
What activities are allowed?
We are not talking about penalizing drivers for taking a sip of coffee, chatting with passengers or blowing their nose. We are talking about drivers who decide to put themselves and others at risk by watching movies, browsing for and downloading ‘apps’, applying makeup or shaving all while trying to navigate through traffic.
These activities are not specifically restricted under the law:
• using a cell phone in hands-free mode – this means the device is not held in the driver’s hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device
• using an earphone — if it is used in a hands-free or voice-activated manner
• drinking beverages, such as coffee, water or pop
• eating a snack
• talking with passengers
• listening to a portable audio player – as long as it is set up before you begin driving
• using the following:
• a GPS navigation system – as long as the system is affixed to the vehicle and programmed before you begin driving or the system is voice activated. You cannot hold the unit or manually enter information while driving
• a collision avoidance system
• a gauge, instrument, device or system that provides information about the vehicle’s systems or the vehicle’s location
• a dispatch system for transporting passengers
• a logistical transportation tracking system that tracks vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of goods for commercial purposes
• calling emergency services, such as 911 with a hand-held cell phone
• using 2-way radios or hand-held radios, such as those commonly referred to as CB (Citizen’s Band) radios, when escorting oversized vehicles, to contact one’s employer, or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations.
One additional piece of information I thought was interesting was the answer to Can I park on the shoulder of a highway to make a call? The following is the answer provided by the Province:
On provincial highways, outside of an urban area, section 43 of the Use of Highway and Rules of the Road Regulation applies and vehicles are not permitted to park on the shoulder of a provincial highway except in an emergency. This is also for safety. If you have to make a phone call, do so at a rest area, or when you stop for gas or for a bathroom break. Alternately, have your passenger make the call.
Provincial highways are typically numbered roadways (e.g., Highway 2), but they may also be known by other names (e.g., Queen Elizabeth II or the Trans-Canada Highway). Municipal parking bylaws vary from place to place. You will need to consider the parking bylaws for that area before pulling over.