EDMONTON, Alta. –Alberta will ban the recreational use of the CB radio as part of what it calls the “most comprehensive distracted driving legislation in Canada.”
Bill 16, the Traffic Safety (Distracted Driving) Amendment Act, 2010, restricts the use of handheld cell phones as well as the use of other potentially distracting devices, including the CB radio.
Under the rules, drivers will only be able to use CB radios if: they are operating pilot vehicles and must maintain contact with another vehicle; they are using the radio to contact their employer where the employee is required to maintain radio contact; to participate in a search, rescue or emergency situation; or when the CB is operable in hands-free mode. How exactly police will enforce the rule remains to be seen.
“This is a great day for traffic safety in our province,” said Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette, who has been typically seen as a trucker-friendly politician. “This legislation is a bold approach and goes beyond restricting cell phones and deals with the broader issue of distracted driving. Our message is clear: Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”
To confirm the rules will affect commercial truck drivers and their time-honoured tradition of conversing via the CB radio, Truck News sought clarification from Tara Peters, a spokesperson with Alberta Transportation’s Office of Traffic Safety.
“Drivers, including commercial truck drivers, who are required by their employer to maintain two-way radio communication, for example via a CB radio, may use a hand-held twoway radio communication device for the purposes of contacting their employer while acting within the scope of that individual’s employment,” she said. “Recreational use of a hand-held twoway radio communication device is not permitted under Bill 16.”
Maybe we were in denial when we asked again if a truck driver will be in violation of the law when using the CB radio for conversational purposes?
But alas, she confirmed: “Yes, the bill specifies that hand-held two-way radios can only be used by drivers who are required by their employer to maintain twoway radio communication for the purposes of contacting their employer while acting within the scope of that individual’s employment.”
Violating the new rules, which could take effect by mid-2011 will net drivers a fine of $172 with no demerit points.
The province says it will be launching a public education and awareness campaign to familiarize drivers with the rules.
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