by: Dave Quest
November 26, 2010
Alberta taking safety seriously
Traffic congestion, longer commutes and a hectic lifestyle are just a few factors that can cause driver distractions. Combine these with the temptations of modern technology, the desire to stay connected to the office at all times, and a false sense of security—and multi-tasking behind the wheel becomes an alluring trap. Several studies show that 20 to 30 per cent of all collisions involve driver distraction, and distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers.
Alberta has taken a leadership role to address this serious traffic safety issue by recently passing Bill 16, the Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010. This is the most comprehensive legislation of its kind in Canada. It restricts the use of hand-held cellphones and activities like texting, reading, writing, personal grooming, and the use of other electronic devices while driving. This legislation also strikes a good balance by being practical, effective and enforceable. Our goal is to make our roads safer.
The proposed fine for distracted driving will be $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. This legislation 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 driving behaviours.
The use of hands-free phones will still be allowed, along with the use of radio communication devices such as CB radios for commercial purposes and search and rescue services. Drivers may use hand-held devices to contact emergency services and this legislation will not affect the official duties of emergency service personnel including enforcement, fire and medical services.
Government appreciates the role that amateur radio operators play in supporting emergency operations in Alberta. We do not plan to interfere with the ability of trained and licensed operators to continue with their work in this area. We will be considering the role of amateur radio operators as we move forward with developing the supporting regulations for the Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010.
This new law could come into force as early as the middle of 2011. Over the course of the coming months, the province will launch an education and awareness campaign to help Albertans understand the details of the legislation.
Safety is a choice, and this legislation combined with education, awareness and enforcement can help Albertans make the right choice. The message is clear: When you are in your vehicle, your focus must be on driving.
If you would like more information, go to www.transportation.alberta.ca, or contact Jeanette Espie, Executive Director, Office of Traffic Safety, Alberta Transportation, 780-427-6588, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dave Quest is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Strathcona Constituency. If you have any comments or questions concerning this column or other provincial government issues, please contact Dave at his constituency office located at #168 – 2301 Premier Way, Sherwood Park, T8H 2K8. Telephone: 780.416.2492 or email: Strathcona@assembly.ab.ca.