Every driver has, at some point or another, checked their phone while they were on the road.
CAA has actually gone so far as to call the phenomenon of distracted driving a “national issue“, which is why almost every single province and territory has a law against it (Nunavut is the only territory that does not). And for good reason! Alberta’s Ministry of Transporation found in 2011 that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash than someone paying attention to the road. And in B.C. alone, distracted driving was credited to 104 deaths in 2010.
That’s why it goes without saying this is a very serious problem. But we still can’t blame an Alberta man for being a little upset about how he received his own distracted driving ticket recently.
A.J. Daoust says he was sitting in the drive-thru line at a Tim Hortons in Beaumont last week responding to a text message when a police officer knocked on his window. The officer asked him to pull over (we’re not even sure what that means in this context), and then gave him a $287 ticket for distracted driving.
“I said, ‘In a drive-thru? Really?'” Daoust told CTV Edmonton. “He was definitely within his rights…but to me this is ridiculous. It’s just kind of heavy-handed.”
Alberta’s Highway Traffic Act does state that no driver can use hand-held phones while on “any thoroughfare”, including streets, roads, trails and so forth. It evens states explicitly that texts or emails can’t be sent “even when stopped at red lights.”
So where else could drivers be vulnerable without realizing?
Because laws vary from province to province, it’s hard to say. In Ontario, for example, you can use your phone as long as you’ve “pulled off the roadway”, are not “impeding traffic” or have “lawfully parked”.
A good rule of thumb? If your car is running, it’s probably not safe to check your phone. You can find out more about distracted driving in the video, above.