LETHBRIDGE: Regional Police are starting strong when it comes to Alberta's new distracted driving law, which goes into effect Thursday. Drivers can be fined for texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone and a local spokesperson says the grace period for the new rules is long over.
"In our opinion, the grace period started in June when the province implemented the media release and told everyone that on September 1, this was going to happen," said Sgt. Craig Deimuth. He said anyone caught doing something against the new rules will be treated like any other driver caught running a stop sign, speeding or driving without a seatbelt. There are no demerit points, but police can fine drivers up to $172.
The list of banned activities includes talking on a hand-held cell phone, texting or emailing, manually entering information on GPS units, reading, using a CB radio, personal grooming and using electronics like laptops, video games or cameras. But you can still use your cell in hands free mode (that means voice-activated, single touch or using an earphone). Smoking, eating a snack and drinking beverages like coffee, water or pop are also still allowed. Deimuth said the best guide as to what kinds of actions are safe is to use your "common sense."
"It's always been common sense. But it's been common sense to stop for those stop signs, wear your seatbelt and not speed also," said Deimuth. "It's unfortunate that any area province has to take legislative action to protect anyone that's using these roadways."