Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Can't Do WHAT While Driving?

Alberta has this new law. It is in effect as of today. I think this law is balls. It is called the "Distracted Driving Law". I know that the big focus is to get people to stop talking and texting on their cell phones, which I am all for...but it spills over into so many more areas which is just ridiculous.
  • Restricts drivers from:
    • using hand-held cell phones
    • texting or e-mailing
    • 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 [so we cannot glance down to look at the directions we've written? How will we ever get anywhere anymore?!]
    • writing, printing or sketching, and
    • personal grooming
  • Complements the current driving without due care and attention legislation
  • Applies to all vehicles as defined by the Traffic Safety Act, including bicycles
  • Applies to all roads in both urban and rural areas of the province
  • The fine for this new offense is $172
 These activities are not specifically restricted under the law: [the fact that they use the term "not specifically" leads me to believe that they could still technically fine you!]
  • using a cell phone in hands-free mode - this means the device is not held in the driver's hand and is activated by voice or a single touch to the device
  • using an earphone — if it is used in a hands-free or voice-activated manner
  • drinking beverages, such as coffee, water or pop [that's good, because me and no coffee on the way to work a day shift would not be good for anyone involved!]
  • eating a snack
  • smoking [seriously, this should be banned! It's unhealthy AND they litter their butts!]
  • talking with passengers
  • listening to a portable audio player – as long as it is set up before you begin driving [so we can't change the radio station or songs on our iPod anymore?!]
  • using the following:
    • a GPS navigation system – as long as the system is affixed to the vehicle and programmed before you begin driving or the system is voice activated. You cannot hold the unit or manually enter information while driving
    • a collision avoidance system
    • a gauge, instrument, device or system that provides information about the vehicle’s systems or the vehicle’s location
    • a dispatch system for transporting passengers
    • a logistical transportation tracking system that tracks vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of goods for commercial purposes
    • calling emergency services, such as 911 with a hand-held cell phone
    • using 2-way radios or hand-held radios, such as those commonly referred to as CB (Citizen’s Band) radios, when escorting oversized vehicles, to contact one's employer, or when participating in search, rescue and emergency management situations.

As a mother of a very busy, talkative, non-car-seat-loving toddler...I notice nothing about children in this law. Seriously, my child is THE most distracting thing about driving. He's gotten a ton better lately, but yesterday AM he was in a particularly pesky mood and the drive went a lot like this:

Braden: Uh oh! Uh oh! Uh oh! Uh oh!
Mama: [looks back, what's the matter? Oh...Braden dropped his blankie overboard. Can I reach back and get it? Yup...] "there you go, Braden. No more uh ohs!"
the familiar sound of his soother being chucked against the window as it falls to the floor
Braden: Uh oh! Oh no!
Mama: [without looking back] Uh oh, Braden! No more soother, Mommy can't reach that!
Braden: [whining noises galore, starts tapping his head indicating that he wants to sing "Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes"]
Mama: Head & shoulders, knees & toes....knees & toes! Knees & toes! [while smiling, looking back occasionally seeing that he's happily pointing to his toes]
Braden: Uh uh! Uh oh! Oh no! [drops blankie for the 5th time]
Mama: [distracted driving law my ass!]
So yeah...there's no rule about your children being pretty much the biggest distraction in the vehicle. I can say all I want that I keep my eyes on the road at all times...and of course I try to and I'm not contorting myself to "safely" get myself into the back seat to try to make my toddler a happy passenger, but I'm definitely guilty of being distracted by him! Giving him snacks, giving him am I supposed to not do that?

I always use my hands free set when I am making a call...but if someone calls me I'm guilty of just using the handset. I guess I'll have to smarten up and use my hands free all the time!

So here's the last thing I have to say: family and friends I will not be answering texts while driving anymore. I can say, that I used to do it highway driving, but never city driving...but I just won't be doing either anymore. I will text you back when I've stopped and can safely do it. If I miss your call, I'll call you back when I safely can too. Mama can't afford a $172 ticket!


  1. Wow! That law is VERY specific! Good for you for not texting anymore. I gave it up about a year ago..too risky, especially with my little nugget in the back now. Plus, I'd hate to hurt anyone else bc I was texting someone!

  2. I'll make sure I don't do any sketching while riding around town on my bicycle!!


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