Distracted driving is risky behaviour that increases the chance of a car accident. Edmonton attorneys who represent personal injury claimants see first-hand the serious consequences of distracted driving. It leads to car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents and leaves accident victims with injuries that may include whiplash, fractured bones, concussions, depression or anxiety, and chronic pain. In some cases, the accident victim will need long-term rehabilitation and may be left with permanent disability. While most people know that distracted driving is dangerous, not everyone knows what counts as “distracted driving” or what the penalties are under the laws in Alberta.
WHAT IS DISTRACTED DRIVING?
Distracted driving is defined under Alberta law (the Traffic Safety Act) such that the following activities are prohibited while driving:
• Using a hand-held mobile device such as a phone to talk, text, or e-mail;
• Using electronic devices like video players or laptops;
• Manually programming GPS units or portable audio players;
• Reading or writing; and
• Personal grooming.
It is illegal to do any of those activities while driving, and it is worth noting that it also counts as distracted driving if a driver does any of those activities while going through a drive-thru. In addition, allowing a pet to occupy the front seat of a vehicle can result in a charge of distracted driving, if, for example, the pet interferes with the driver's access to the vehicle controls or the pet obstructs the driver's clear vision in any direction, as that would affect the ability to safely operate the vehicle.
WHAT ACTIVITIES (ASIDE FROM DRIVING) ARE ALLOWED WHILE BEHIND THE WHEEL?
According to the Edmonton Police Service, eating a snack, drinking a beverage, smoking, or talking with a passenger while driving is allowed while behind the wheel. Alberta drivers are also allowed to use hands-free mobile devices that are activated by a single touch or voice activated. There are only very limited exemptions to the hand-held cell prohibition, for emergency personnel who are using electronic devices in the course of performing their duties, or for drivers to call 911 in the case of an emergency or to report an impaired driver. Otherwise, Alberta distracted driving law is squarely aimed at prohibiting use of hand-held mobile devices.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING?
Distracted driving became a ticketable offence in Alberta as of September 1, 2011. The fine for breaking the distracted driving law was increased as of January 1, 2016 so that in Alberta, the penalty for distracted driving is now a $287 fine and three demerit points. If a driver is engaged in more risky behaviour, they can be charged with driving carelessly under the Traffic Safety Act and receive a fine of $402 and six demerit points.
HOW COMMON IS DISTRACTED DRIVING?
According to Alberta Transportation, distracted driving convictions in Alberta have gone down, but the numbers are still significant, with the latest statistics showing 23,546 fines in 2017-2018. The highest number of distracted driving offences in Alberta (18,659) relate to drivers using handheld devices like phones to talk or text while behind the wheel. Across Canada, Alberta is the province with the highest percentage increase in the number of distracted driving-related insurance claims. Alberta saw a 58% increase in distracted driving insurance claims within the period of 2016 to 2018, despite the stiffening of penalties and fines for distracted driving in Alberta as of January 1, 2016.
EDMONTON PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT, CAR ACCIDENT, MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT, AND BICYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYERS
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, get legal advice from a top car accident lawyer to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries via your insurance claim. Edmonton-based attorneys at McCourt Law Offices exclusively represent personal injury claimants and our lawyers can help you submit your claim for compensation for personal injuries caused in a car, motorcycle or a pedestrian accident. Edmonton personal injury lawyers at our firm offer a free initial consultation and if you decide to retain us there is no fee until you collect your cash compensation. Call 780-448-0011 today to schedule your free consultation and find out how our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you get the money you deserve.