Driven to distraction – Alberta’s law packs punch

We’ve all seen it. That one driver who chooses to focus on their phone more than the road ahead of them.

We’ve all seen it. That one driver who chooses to focus on their phone more than the road ahead of them.

This type of action is not only irresponsible, but is also incredibly unsafe and could cost someone’s life.

Since the province’s distracted driving law, which previously carried a $172 fine, was rolled out in 2011, the roads are supposed to be much safer.

Now after four years, it was time to revisit the law and question whether it is working in getting the message across to drivers to change their habits.

Last week, before the fall session at the Legislature was brought to a close, Transportation Minister Brian Mason announced the government has made changes to the regulations in the Traffic Safety Act, hence strengthening the law.

As of Jan. 1st, law enforcement is now permitted to issue three demerit points along with a $287 fine for distracted driving. The new regulations apply to offences involving hand-held devices like cellphones and GPS devices, along with reading materials, food items and personal hygiene products.

“From September 2011 to March of this year, there were more than 87,000 convictions for distracted driving, and despite our best efforts, distracted driving remains a real danger, with convictions increasing year over year,” noted Mason during a press conference. “Given these numbers, we are following through on Albertans’ wishes for stronger penalties for distracted driving.”

Of the 87,000 convictions detailed by Mason, around 90% were for using hand-held devices while driving. According to government stats, from 2014 to 2015, male drivers made up two-thirds of all convictions. Young male drivers, in between ages 22 to 34 had the highest conviction rates.

Alberta RCMP Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan spoke on behalf of all police and emergency services within the province. “Don’t drive while distracted,” she said. “Distracted driving can be deadly, and although police will be enforcing distracted driving laws, all drivers can make Alberta’s roads safer.”

In theory, like all of our laws, the distracted driving law is supposed to work. It seems drivers were willing to just pay the fine and continue on with their habits, without seeing many repercussions.

Back in 2011, some naysayers warned the government that in other jurisdictions, where there is similar legislation, the distracted driving law might not be effective.

This begs the question, if the current law wasn’t working, how sure are we that a slightly tougher law with demerit points will?

A heftier penalty to distracted driving, in particular texting and driving, may wake up some drivers.

 

Just Posted

Thurber Raiders snatch season opener from the Lacombe Rams

Red Deer game saw 44-8 win for the Raiders

City crews clean up Lacombe yard

Loads of debris were taken out of the residence property on Sept. 21st

Wolf Creek Schools raises Treaty 6 flag for first time

Chiefs, school officials took part in a ceremony that is aimed at acknowledging Treaty 6 land

Lacombe Generals looking to capture Allan Cup on home ice

Generals returning key veterans in hopes avenging last years finals loss

Unsightly properties upcoming focus for Bylaw Enforcement

Clean up of long-standing, problematic properties will begin on Sept. 21

WATCH: AHS breaks ground on new Lacombe Community Health Centre

17,000 sq. ft. facility will bring existing Lacombe AHS services together

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

Coaches, players on Alberta university rugby team buckle up for the Broncos

16 people died when Humboldt Broncos bus collided with a semi-truck in rural Saskatchewan

The Vatican ‘owes God an apology,’ activist says in letter to Pope Francis

Letter came after a report on sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children in six Pennsylvania dioceses

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

BALONEY METER: Do Liberal policies mean a typical family is $2,000 richer?

MPs took to Twitter to talk how ‘typical’ Canadian families have more money due to Liberal policies

Most Read