According to CBC News, the RCMP now has a longer lens that can track a distracted driver from 1.2 km away. Over the Victoria Day long weekend officers were using these high quality lenses to catch distracted drivers across the country in addition to the traditional R.I.D.E. programs to catch drivers under the influence.
As distracted driving continues to be a top cause of accidents in Alberta, it is important to drive carefully and obtain comprehensive insurance coverage to protect you and your vehicle. An experienced auto insurance broker in Alberta at MBS Insurance Brokers Ltd. can help you get started with the coverage you need at a competitive rate.
What is Distracted Driving?
As a top cause of motor vehicle accidents in Alberta, distracted driving is more than just texting while driving. Even eating or drinking while operating a vehicle can be a form of distracted driving. Other forms of distracted driving can include operating other equipment in the vehicle such as the radio or GPS.
Under the Alberta Traffic Safety Act, distracted driving includes the following activities while driving:
- 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 and programming portable audio players
- entering information on GPS units
- reading printed materials in the vehicle
- writing, printing or sketching; and
- personal grooming (brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving)
What are the Penalties for Distracted Driving in Alberta?
As of January 1, 2016, the penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is a $287 fine and three demerit points. Any charges or convictions for infractions before January 1, 2016 will result in a $287 fine but no demerit points (regardless of whether the ticket is paid before or after January 1).
Tickets for distracted driving are issued to the driver of the vehicle and not the registered owner. Should a driver receive too many demerit points, their driver’s licence would be suspended – meaning 8 demerit points for someone in the GDL program and 15 for a fully licenced driver.
Drivers engaged in any of the identified activities listed above can be charged, even if their driving performance doesn’t appear to be affected. If a driver commits a moving violation while distracted, they would receive two tickets – one for distracted driving and one for the moving violation.
If you receive a ticket for distracted driving you can anticipate that your insurance costs will increase. One ticket can lead to the end of the clean driving record discount, which may amount to 5-10% off of your insurance premiums. As noted above, you may receive two tickets, which can lead to premium increases of up to $500 per year depending on your package.
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
The best tips to avoid distracted driving require careful planning. To avoid being distracted by a GPS device, you should plan your route in advance. If there are any changes to your route, use a voice activated system or pull over to the side of the road to use the GPS to change your destination.
Similarly for a cellphone, set up your car with voice activated dialing and a Bluetooth headset to use your phone hands free. Assign a “designated texter” who can send and receive texts on your behalf while driving. If you need to contact emergency services while driving, there is no penalty for calling 911 while driving, though if you can safely pull over before calling you should consider doing so if safe.
Be careful with any food or drink in the car and make sure your passengers know not to distract the driver while the vehicle is in motion. Set the car radio in advance and avoid changing it while in traffic.
Contact Our Team for Auto Insurance in Edmonton, Alberta
In order to obtain the best insurance rates, you should work with the experienced team at MBS. As a trusted auto insurance broker in Edmonton, we can help you find discounts for your clean driving record or help you obtain the coverage you need if you are dealing with previous accidents or tickets for distracted driving. Contact us today at 780-436-7880 to get your free auto insurance quote in Edmonton and surrounding area.