Despite changes in Manitoba, Alberta not looking at changing distracted driving penalties

By Aaron Mahoney - Lethbridge News Now
October 20, 2018 - 2:30pm

EDMONTON, AB – Even though a fellow prairie province is introducing some of the toughest distracted driving penalties next month, Alberta has no plans to follow Manitoba's lead.

Starting November 1st, drivers in Manitoba who are caught on their phone while driving will receive a three-day licence suspension, a 672-dollar ticket, and five demerit points for first-time offenders.

Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason, through a spokesperson, said the province is not in the process of amending distracted driving laws.

That’s despite an Alberta Motor Association survey done in 2017 which found 72 percent of Albertans think distracted driving has worsened in the last three years.

In 2016, distracted driving penalties in Alberta increased to a 287-dollar fine and three demerit points.

The current law restricts drivers from:

- 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)

Drivers engaged in any of the identified activities can be charged, even if their driving performance doesn’t appear to be affected. 

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