Blog Distracted Driving Laws In Alberta

Feb 3, 2020

Learn About Distracted Driving Rules And Issues In Alberta

Sign For Distracted Driving with the caption stay alert

Distracted driving is one of the biggest road safety issues in Alberta today. It is the number one killer on roads and increasing costs of car insurance quotes. Collectively, drivers in Alberta need to do something about it.

How prevalent is distracted driving in Alberta?

More than 25,000 drivers are convicted of distracted driving annually. Many other cases are pending. And these are only the drivers who get caught. There are thousands of other drivers guilty of it on a daily basis.

Fortunately, it is 100% preventable. This blog post takes an in-depth look at distracted driving in Alberta. Learn about distracted driving laws, rules, fines, and how a conviction can impact your driving record and insurance.

The Alberta Distracted Driving Law

Alberta distracted driving legislation is outlined in the Traffic Safety Act. Distracted driving laws are outlined under section 115 :

  • 115.1(1) Subject to this section and the regulations made under section 115.5, no individual shall drive or operate a vehicle on a highway while at the same time
    • (a) holding, viewing or manipulating a cellular telephone, radio communication device or other communication device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communication, electronic data, electronic mail or text messages, or
    • (b) holding, viewing or manipulating a hand-held electronic device or a wireless electronic device.
    • (2) An individual may drive or operate a vehicle on a highway while using a cellular telephone or radio communication device in hands-free mode.
  • 115.2(1) Subject to this section and the regulations made under section 115.5, no individual shall drive or operate a vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the vehicle is activated and is visible to the individual.
  • 115.4(1) Subject to this section and the regulations made under section 115.5, no individual shall drive or operate a vehicle on a highway while engaged in an activity that distracts the individual from the operation of the vehicle, including but not limited to
    • (a) reading or viewing printed material located within the vehicle other than an instrument, gauge, device or system referred to in section 115.2(2)(f)
    • (b) writing, printing or sketching
    • (c) engaging in personal grooming or hygiene, and
    • (d) any other activity that may be prescribed in the regulations.

What Is Considered Distracted Driving In Alberta?

Distracted driving rules vary from province to province. According to Government of Alberta, the following actions are considered distractions :

  • Using hand-held cell phones
  • Texting or e-mailing (even when stopped at red lights)
  • Using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
  • Entering information on GPS units
  • Reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • Writing, printing or sketching
  • Personal grooming (brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving)

What Is Not Considered Distracted Driving In Alberta?

There are a number of actions that are NOT considered a distraction :

  • Using a cell phone in hands-free mode
  • Drinking and eating a snack
  • Smoking
  • Talking with passengers in the vehicle
  • Calling 911 using a handheld phone
  • Using a CB radio to communicate with an employer
  • Using a GPS that is affixed to the vehicle

Are Pets A Distraction While Driving?

While it is not explicitly stated, pets can be considered to be a distraction if drivers become too occupied with a pet while driving. Police can use their discretion.

Traffic Safety Act 115(2)(i) & (j) allow police to charge any driver who permits anything to occupy the front seat, including pets, that interferes with the driver’s ability to operate vehicle controls or obstructs their view.

Alberta Distracted Driving Fines And Penalties

Distracted driving officially became a driving offence in Alberta on September 1, 2011. However, the province recently upgraded the distracted driving fines.

How Much Is A Distracted Driving Ticket In Alberta?

You are subject to a $300 fine if you are convicted of distracted driving. Additional fines can be levied if you drive carelessly. Careless driving comes with a $402 fine and six demerit points.

How Many Demerit Points For Distracted Driving In Alberta?

If you are convicted of driving while distracted in Alberta, 3 demerit points will be added to your driving record. They will stay on your record for 2 years from your conviction date and will increase how much you pay for car insurance in Alberta.

What Are The Distracted Driving Statistics In Alberta?

Women with a phone and coffee in her hands while driving

Since Alberta distracted driving legislation was passed in 2011, the number of convictions has increased each year.

The province of Alberta estimates :

  • 20-30% of all collisions are due to distracted driving
  • Distracted drivers are three times more likely to get into a collision than an alert driver

What Is The Most Common Type Of Distracted Driver In Alberta?

While most people assume distracted driving is a new or young driver issue, it’s not. Based on data collected about distracted driving convictions, a distracted driver in Alberta are 35-44 year old male drivers who use a cell phone while driving

What Are The Most Common Distracted Driving Convictions In Alberta?

The most common types of distractions drivers were fined for in 2017 :

  • Cell phone use (20,075)
  • Using hand held electronic devices (3938)
  • Display screens and GPS (39)
  • General prohibited distractions (230)
  • Reading (10)
  • Writing (5)
  • Grooming (10)

There has been a stark increase in the number of people using electronic devices :

  • 486 convictions in 2013
  • 3,938 convictions in 2017

There has been a decrease in the number of people caught reading and grooming while driving :

  • 87 reading convictions in 2013; 10 convictions in 2017
  • 33 grooming convictions in 2013; 10 convictions in 2017

The number of drivers caught using cell phones has actually decreased :

  • 24,428 in 2013; 20,075 in 2017

Source : Alberta Government

Which Cities In Alberta Have The Highest Rate Of Distracted Driving?

Women driving while distracted in by putting on makeup and using the phone

Not surprisingly, the larger municipalities in Alberta had the highest instances of distracted driving. In 2017 :

  • Edmonton had the most distracted driver convictions (6,594), followed by
  • Calgary (5,234)
  • Lethbridge (992)
  • Medicine Hat (480)
  • Red Deer (474)

Since 2015, convictions have lowered in virtually all major municipalities in Alberta except Edmonton :

  • Calgary : 7,173 in 2015; 5,234 in 2017
  • Red Deer : 1,257 in 2015; 474 in 2017
  • Lethbridge : 1,259 in 2015; 992 in 2017

In Edmonton, distracted driving has increased significantly :

  • 4,094 convictions in 2015; 6,594 convictions in 2017

Source : Alberta Government

Which Age And Gender Have The Highest Rate Of Distracted Driving Convictions In Alberta?

Comparing gender, male drivers had the highest number of distracted driving convictions in 2017. There were 24,665 drivers convicted of distracted driving in Alberta in 2017. Of those :

  • 9,186 were female (37%)
  • 15,479 were male (63%)

In terms of age, the number of convictions is spread fairly evenly across all age groups :

  • 16-21 years old : 1,921
  • 22-24 years old : 1,832
  • 25-29 years old : 3,822
  • 30-34 years old : 4,195
  • 35-44 years old : 6,329
  • 45-54 years old : 3,718
  • 55-64 years old : 2,180
  • 65+ years old : 667

Source: Alberta Government

Alberta Distracted Driving FAQs

Still have questions about distracted driving in Alberta? Here are some common questions about demerits, fines, laws, and more :

Do Distracted Driving Rules In Alberta Apply To All Areas?

Yes. Rules in Alberta apply to all cities and all roads within the province.

What Is Considered A Distraction While Driving?

Anything that takes your attention and eyes off the road could be considered a distraction. Distracted driving is a lot more than texting and driving.

Can You Get A Ticket For Distracted Driving?

Yes. You can get a ticket for distracted driving in Alberta.

Does The Alberta Traffic Safety Act Include Distracted Driving?

Yes. The Traffic Safety Act in Alberta outlines distracted driving laws, fines, and penalties.

When Did The Alberta Distracted Driving Law Come Into Effect?

Distracted driving laws in Alberta came into effect on September 1st, 2011.

Why Are Alberta Distracted Driving Regulations Important?

Regulations were put in place to help make Alberta roads safer for all drivers. If each driver chose to not drive while distracted, we could reduce the number of traffic accidents in the province.