Is Using a Cell Phone “Distracted Driving”?

Not Always

The Alberta Traffic Safety Act provides that no individual shall drive or operate a vehicle while at the same time holding, viewing or manipulating a cell phone or other similar device, broadly defined to include just about any type of communication or electronic device, or a display screen, or a global positioning system. But there are many instances where the use of a cell phone while driving is specifically permitted. Some of these are:

– When the device is operated in “hands-free mode,” which is defined as voice activation or activation by the push of no more than one button;
– When the device is a global positioning system navigation device and it is programmed before beginning to drive the vehicle or is used in a voice activated manner, and the device and display are securely affixed to the vehicle;
– When the cell phone or other communication device is being used for contacting an emergency response unit;
– When the device is used by an individual operating an emergency vehicle acting within the scope of employment.

How about texting? Sorry, writing or reading text is specifically prohibited by law, being an activity which distracts an individual from the operation of the vehicle.

Readers are cautioned that the above is only a synopsis of the law and that for greater clarity, the text of the law should be read and your professional advisor consulted. What do you think?

Larry P. Carr, Q.C.

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