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Distracted Driving: Everything You Need to Know

Did you know distracted driving convictions get treated as major convictions for personal and commercial insurance policies?

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), distracted driving can be just as hazardous as driving under the influence. You’re also 23 times more likely to crash if you text and drive — one study even found that nearly 80% of collisions involved some form of driver inattention!

Despite the shocking statistics, nearly three out of four Canadians admit to driving distracted. You may think sending a text takes just five seconds and isn’t a big deal, but at 90 kilometres an hour, that’s equivalent to driving past an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Don’t think law enforcement is too busy to notice distracted driving; the RCMP issued 148 distracted driving tickets between February 22-28, 2021. They even busted a distracted driver who was busy ordering pizza over the phone. 

Alberta’s Distract Driving Law

Alberta’s distracted driving law is stricter than other provinces and covers more than just texting and driving. Drivers are restricted from the following behaviours, even while stopped at a red light:

  • Using a cellphone (talking, texting, emailing)
  • Operating electronic devices like laptops, video game consoles, cameras and portable audio players 
  • Entering information on a GPS
  • Reading, writing and sketching
  • Personal grooming (flossing teeth, curling hair, clipping nails, shaving, putting makeup on, etc.)

Even if your driving is perfect, the police can still convict you of distracted driving for any of these behaviours. They can also lay charges if you’re engaging in other activities that affect your ability to drive safely. For example, you may get a ticket if the police feel you’re too distracted by your dog while behind the wheel.

Penalties in Alberta

A distracted driving conviction will land you a $300 fine and three demerit points. You may also find it challenging to get full insurance coverage at reasonable rates — Insurance can go up by as much as 25% after a distracted driving ticket.

So, next time the temptation comes to pick up your phone to check that new text message, ask yourself: Is this worth it? We hope you all stay and drive safe out there!