Alberta to hand out three demerit points for distracted driving starting January 1st, 2016

The province of Alberta banned the use of mobile devices while driving more than four years ago. Last May, the fine for those caught using a smartphone increased to $287 from $172.

Effective January 1st, 2016, the penalty for distracted driving in Alberta will include three demerit points, in addition to the existing $287 fine.

According to the Traffic Safety Act distracted driving encompasses many things, including:

– 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 MP3 players
– entering information on GPS units
– reading printed materials in the vehicle
– writing, printing or sketching
– personal grooming

Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation, said, “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. Given these numbers, we are following through on Albertans’ wishes for stronger penalties for distracted driving.”

[source] Alberta [/source]