In a unanimous decision, Alberta is one step closer to passing Bill 204 amending the distracted driving laws and increasing fines from $172 to $250 plus the addition of three demerit points.
It's expected that Bill 204 will become law in early April.
"I always had the confidence that everybody would vote for the bill because the idea for this bill really came from the public," Calgary-East MLA Moe Amery said in the Calgary Herald. "Hopefully this will help people save their lives and the lives of others."
Amery first introduced Bill 204 in December. It received wide praise and police chiefs in Edmonton and Calgary endorsed the bill. Amery now hopes police will use the bill to place greater emphasis on distracted drivers.
Alberta is the latest province to take additional measures against distracted driving. In February, Nova Scotia increased fines for distracted driving and added four demerit points. Ontario has a similar plan currently sitting with legislature. If legislation passes, fines will increase from $280 to up to $1,000 with the addition of three demerit points--the toughest penalties in the country.
- Related Read: Distracted Driving Laws in Canada
Alberta's Progressive Approach to Distracted Driving
Alberta is possibly the most progressive province in the country when it comes to handling distracted driving. Alberta Transportation's "Crotches Kill" campaign rolled out two years ago and received media attention from across the country for its unconventionally open-minded approach to tackling a tough topic.
"It was intentionally designed as an edgy ad that was designed to get people's attention and to start a conversation," Donna Babchishin, a spokesperson with Alberta Transportation, told Metro News back in 2013.
Alberta's laws are also more refined than the rest of the country. While most laws forbid the use of hand-held devices and entertainment screens while driving, Alberta's laws also address writing, printing or sketching, personal grooming, reading printed materials in a vehicle, using electronic devices including laptops and video games, and programming portable audio players.
Distracted Driving Kills
Distracted drivers are three times more likely to get into a crash than attentive drivers, Alberta Transportation reports.
The Ministry also estimates that driver distraction plays a role in 30 per cent of all collisions, while the U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that number is actually much higher, with some form of driver inattention contributing to 80 per cent of collisions and 65 per cent of near crashes. Driver inattention plays a role in 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year.
In British Columbia and Ontario, distracted driving is reported as the number one killer on the roads causing more fatalities than both impaired driving and speeding.
For more information on distracted driving, visit distractedtodeath.com.