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Distracted Driving in Alberta & How It Impacts Insurance

Auto Insurance

By Samantha Lemna | November 12, 2019

Alberta has had a distracted driving law since September 1 , 2011. In 2018 the province saw over 23000 tickets handed out for distracted driving– Edmonton alone saw over 5000 charges and Calgary had 4500 infractions. In addition to the fine and demerit points distracted driving in Alberta increases your insurance rates. It can also make it harder for you to get full coverage.

Let’s examine the ins and outs of distracted driving and the impact on insurance in Alberta.

What is the distracted driving law in Alberta?

The distracted driving law prohibits drivers from driving distracted whether they’re stopped or in motion. You can be charged even if your distraction isn’t affecting your driving.

What is considered to be distracted driving?

In Alberta distracted driving is considered to be:

  • Using your phone in your hands (texting emailing talking et cetera)
  • Using any electronic devices like laptops cameras music players and gaming platforms
  • Entering information into GPS
  • Reading
  • Writing or drawing (or any other art really)
  • Personal grooming (brushing your hair flossing your teeth putting on makeup shaving et cetera)
  • If you allow anything to interfere with your access to your vehicle’s controls or obstructs your vision
  • Engaging in any activity that impairs your ability to drive safely

This applies whenever you’re driving in traffic whether you’re in motion or stopped.

You can still use devices like GPS and phones as long as they’re hands-free and set up before you begin driving.

What are the penalties for distracted driving in Alberta?

If you are charged with a distracted driving ticket you’ll receive a $287 fine and 3 demerit points.

This ticket can also be paired with other violations. For example if you fail to stop at a stop sign due to distracted driving you may receive a ticket for distracted driving and failure to stop.

Distracted Driving Tickets

If you receive a distracted driving ticket in Alberta you’ll receive 3 demerits and a fine. This means you’ll have a regular traffic violation on your driving record.

Is distracted driving a major conviction in Alberta?

No distracted driving is a regular traffic violation. Serious or major traffic convictions include careless driving hit and run accidents excessive speeding (over 50km/h the posted speed limit) and more.

Distracted Driving and Insurance in Alberta

Getting a distracted driving charge will negatively impact your insurance. It can do so in several ways:

  • Raise your insurance rates
  • Restrict your coverage options
  • Restrict your payment options

Distracted driving will raise your insurance premiums in Alberta like any other regular traffic violation ticket that shows up on your driving record. Here’s a handy graph that shows you how tickets in general impact your insurance rates in Alberta:

Impact of Tickets on Car Insurance in Alberta

Insurance companies may restrict your coverage and payment options if you receive a distracted driving ticket. This is because you are more likely to be in an accident. Keep in mind this is a worst-case scenario – it will depend on your insurance company and your driving record and claims history as well.

Some insurance companies may increase your rate even if you only have one distracted driving ticket. They may also add a surcharge based on the fact the ticket you received was for distracted driving. How much your rates will increase will depend on the individual insurer.

Why does distracted driving raise insurance rates in Alberta?

Tickets cause an increase in your insurance rates because you are statistically more likely to be in an accident if you’re not following the rules of the road. This is especially true for distracted driving!

While the best thing to do is never drive distracted if you do get a distracted driving ticket and you’re worried about how it will affect your insurance talk to your broker. We’re here to answer your questions and help when you need it.

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