Demerits coming for distracted drivers in Alberta, Report
Demerits coming for distracted drivers in Alberta, Report

Demerits coming for Alberta distracted drivers, Report

The Alberta government is adding demerit points to the existing $287 fine for distracted driving.

Beginning Jan. 1, drivers will be hit with three demerit points if they are found violating the provincial distracted driving law by texting, using a hand-held phone, personal grooming or fiddling with GPS controls.

In March, under PC rule, the Alberta Legislature passed Bill 204: The Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving Demerit) Amendment Act, which raised Alberta’s $172 ticket for distracted driving to $250 plus three demerit points. Police, however, have not been handing out demerits because the regulations had not been formalized. And in fact, distracted driving tickets issued to date have been $287 not $250.

Transportation Minister Brian Mason on Wednesday refused to elaborate on the cabinet order, saying the government will make an announcement on Thursday alongside several stakeholders.

“Traffic safety is critical and all drivers have to make sure that they’re paying attention to their driving and they’re obeying traffic laws including distracted driving,” he said. “It’s a leading cause of accidents and the government certainly wants to do something about it but the details will be available tomorrow in my announcements.”

Government research shows that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers. In 2014, there were 25,913 convictions for distracted driving in Alberta.

In August, a one-day Edmonton Police Service ticket blitz aimed at distracted drivers caught 463 drivers on their cell phones. Officers handed out at total of 480 distracted driving violations, with 96 per cent issued for cell phone use.

The government is also conducting a broad review of the Traffic Safety Act, said Mason, calling it a “fairly routine matter.”

“We just want to make sure that every so often we take a look at the Act, make sure it’s up to date, that we’re doing the best practices and that everything we’ve included in the Act is actually working as we had hoped.”


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