Starting January 1, 2016, Alberta drivers caught driving while distracted will end up paying a $287 fine and get three demerit points on top of that, the Transportation Minister Brian Mason has announced (via CBC News).
The tougher measures have come into force after it became evident that drivers were returning to their “old habits” and not paying attention while driving. Back in 2011 when new fines were introduced, distracted driving dropped. Fast forward to today, and distracted driving has emerged again as a major issue.
Transportation Minister Brian Mason says the message is not getting through and tougher sanctions are needed. He said it’s “a top priority.”
“People continue to drive while distracted on our roads and highways,” he said in a news conference in Edmonton Thursday. “This is unacceptable and puts everyone on the road at risk.”
To back his claim, the minister pointed to government statistics: There had been nearly 80,000 convictions since Alberta began levying fines on distracted drivers up until this March. Also, there were 27,417 convictions for distracted driving in the 2014–2015 year, up 5% compared to a year earlier.
During his speech, the Transportation Minister was joined by crash victim Renaye Wade, who was left in a coma for roughly a month after her car was hit by a distracted driver. She called the new penalties a “start for Alberta.”