Distracted Driving

Image of driver and passenger looking at their cell phones in the car

As a driver, it is your responsibility to keep your focus on your driving. Distractions such as cell phones, reading and eating take your attention off the road. Research shows that this reduces driver performance and increases the risk of error behind the wheel. 

The fine for distracted driving in Alberta is $287 and 3 demerits. Alberta’s distracted driving law restricts drivers from doing any of the following while driving:

  • Using hand-held cellphones
  • Texting or e-mailing
  • Using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays, and programming portable audio players (e.g., ipods)
  • Entering information on GPS units
  • Reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • Writing, printing or sketching
  • Personal grooming

Avoid distractions while driving

  • Be prepared - Before you leave, ensure the temperature, media system and GPS are set so you don't have to adjust them while driving.
  • Prepare safe activities for children - Ensure they are comfortable and properly buckled up before leaving. Research shows that children can be more distracting than a cell phone when driving. To learn moreread the report from the Monash University Accident Research Centre.
  • Put your cell phone out of reach - If you can't reach your cell phone, you will be less likely to use it while driving.
  • Park safely if needed - If you need to take a phone call, attend to your child or obtain directions, park in a safe place before doing so.
  • Take rest breaks - If you need to eat and drink, plan rest stops instead of doing it while driving. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Can I just pull over and make my phone call? Permanent link to Can I just pull over and make my phone call?

    As per provincial rules of the road, vehicles are not permitted to park on the shoulder of a highway except in an emergency. This is for safety. Municipal parking bylaws vary from place to place. You need to consider the parking bylaws for a location before pulling over.

  • 2. Can I use a hands-free device? Permanent link to Can I use a hands-free device?

    Research shows that hands-free phones are no safer than hand-held phones. Hands-free units free you from having to physically manipulate the device, but don’t reduce your need to think about the conversation you are having, which is a cognitive distraction. Trying to find various components of your hands-free phone can take your attention away from driving and increase your chances of being in a crash. If you use a hands-free cell phone, it is still better to find a safe and legal place to pull over to take or place a call.

  • 3. What is the difference between talking on a cellphone and talking to another passenger in the vehicle? Permanent link to What is the difference between talking on a cellphone and talking to another passenger in the vehicle?

    Passengers are active listeners who are more aware of the driving situation and can delay conversations during challenging driving conditions. A person on the phone may continue the conversation when appropriate. Avoid any emotionally charged conversations when driving as they may lead to erratic driving behaviour.

  • 4. Can I drive with my pet in the vehicle? Permanent link to Can I drive with my pet in the vehicle?

    Yes, as long as the pet is not interfering with the actions of the driver. This is at the discretion of the police officer. Other legislation (Traffic Safety Act) also allows police to charge a driver who permits anything, including a pet, to occupy the front seat of the vehicle such that it interferes with the driver’s access to vehicle controls and the safe operation of the vehicle, or obstructs the driver’s clear vision in any direction.

Further information:

Distracted driving
is defined as the diversion of attention from driving as a result of the driver focusing on a non-driving object, activity, event or person.

Driver distraction contributes to 20-30% of all collisions.

A car going 50 km/h travels about 13.9m in one second. One second is enough to cause a collision.

Last updated: Thursday, January 31, 2019
Page ID: 44173