Finally Alberta gets on the band wagon with distracted driving laws. It will prove interesting to see how well they work and how much enforcement happens. Alberta's law is reportedly tougher than the ones in other provinces.

Let's bring you up to speed so to speak:

From the Government of Alberta Web Site:
Distracted Driving Legislation (Bill 16)

What does the law restrict

What activities are not allowed while driving?

  • talking on a hand-held cell phone 
  • texting/e-mailing 
  • 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 
  • smoking 
  • 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. 
Well folks? Does the law go far enough? I sure hope so.

According to the CAA/AMA Web Site:

80% of collisions include driver inattention as a contributing factor
(finding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S.)

People using a cell phone while driving are 4 to 6 times more likely to be in a car crash
(references a number of existing studies, the most well known is Redelmeier, D. A. and Tibsharani, R. J. “Association Between Cellular Telephone Calls and Motor Vehicle Collisions” in New England Journal of Medicine, 336; pp 453-458. 1997.)

People texting while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision or near collision
(refers to a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Citation: Olson, R.L., Hanowski, R.J.; Hickman, J.S.; and Bocanegra, J. 2009. Driver distraction in commercial vehicle operations. Report No. FMCSA-RRR-09-242. Washington, DC: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.)

Driver distraction is associated with more than 100 deaths and 5,000 injuries from nearly 40,000 collisions each year (figures are Alberta specific and are inferred based on the existing body of knowledge relating to distractions and using the Alberta Traffic Collision Statistics for 2010.)

Here's to safer roads for all!!!!

As with everyday, I would love to have you wade in on the topic of the day...
What are your thoughts on Distracted Driving Laws - do they work? Do they go far enough?

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Have a safe weekend everyone, remember to ride like everyone around you is blind and can not see you, and please use respect with that right hand...

Until Monday... 

Belt Drive Betty 
Editor & Rider

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  1. Talking on a cell phone in any form (even hands-free) should be illegal. Several studies have shown that talking on the phone while driving affects the driver's concentration and reaction time the same as a legally drunk driver.

    I also don't believe this should be something we should rely on the police to enforce, but rather feel vehicle interiors should be lined with material or have an electronic jammer that blocks the radio frequency range used by cell phones. This is the only way to 100% ensure people won't talk/text while driving.

  2. We've had distracted river laws in Ontario for about a year now and I have seen NO evidence that cell phone use, etc have been reduced on the highways. Still see people eating lunch, texting, reading, talking on the phone, etc. Don't know if it's just that the authorities haven't cracked down yet or what, but I'm not feeling any safer.