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Distracted driving

​On Sept. 1, 2011, the new Provincial Distracted Driving Law came into effect. The law is one of the most comprehensive in the country and will improve road safety in Calgary by restricting drivers from the following:

  • Using hand-held cellphones
  • Texting or emailing
  • Using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
  • Entering information on GPS units
  • Reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • Writing, printing or sketching
  • Personal grooming

For more information, visit the Government of Alberta Transportation website.

Why are the police seen using the cellphone without being hands-free?

All emergency personnel are exempt from the distracted driving law while in the execution of their duties. This includes the use of two-way radios.

Police officers are exempt from this law because they may need to gather information but do not have time to stop and retrieve it. This could be a description of a suspect, description of a vehicle, or any other pertinent information. Sometimes there’s a need to receive information from another officer and the information needs to be given discreetly and privately since the general public may be scanning our radios. Even though officers are exempt, they are still held accountable for their actions just like anyone else.

In addition to emergency personal, all individuals who require the use of two-way radios are also exempt. This includes but is not limited to taxis, couriers, pilot vehicles and search and rescue.

Are Calgary Transit or City of Calgary workers exempt from the distracted driving law?

Only for the use of two–way radio communication when acting within the scope of the individual’s employment. They are not exempt in the use of cellphones.

How do I report a Calgary Police Service (CPS) member driving distracted?

The public can make a complaint to our Professional Standards section if they feel an officer is driving distracted.

How do I report a bad /distracted driver?

Call the non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.

You will be asked if you can identify the driver and if you are willing to go to court. Both these need to be answered yes to for your complaint to be taken.

Is eating a snack like an apple considered distracted driving?

It depends on the degree to which this is being done. If you’re using two hands to eat a burger and then continue holding it while driving, this is likely considered distracted driving. However, each circumstance would have to be evaluated on its own.

Can I use my GPS while driving?

Yes, as long as you have programmed it before driving or operating the vehicle or it is being used in a voice activated manner. It must also be securely affixed to the vehicle in a manner that does not interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle and not held in the individual’s hand.

Can my GPS/cell holder be in my field of view (attached to the windscreen) without it being distracting?

Yes, as long as it does not impede your ability to see the road and what is around you.

Can I use my cellphone when I am stopped in traffic or at a red light?

No. You must be attentive to what is going on at all times. (e.g. Emergency vehicles approaching from behind, out of control vehicles which may require you to avoid a collision with, etc).

Can I hold the cellphone with the speaker phone on?

No. This is illegal and dangerous.

Is changing the CD in my player okay?

It depends on the degree to which this is being done. If your CD is out of reach and requires you to look away for more than a brief second, then it is distracting you.

Is drinking coffee or a soft drink okay?

If you have your coffee mug or soft drink in the cup holder and you take a sip every once in awhile then that is fine. However, if you are holding it continuously while driving this may be considered distracting.

What’s the penalty for distracted driving?

The penalty for distracted driving is $172 and no demerit points.

How many distracted driving tickets has the CPS written since the law came into effect?

Since Oct. 1, 2011 we have issued 2,997 summonses.