Cell ban coverage reaches western Canada

EDMONTON — A county immediately east of Alberta’s capital city is set to prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones, and a province-wide ruling may be closer to reality.

On May 19, Strathcona County Council passed a bylaw to ban the use of hand-held cell phones by anyone driving on roads controlled by the county. The bylaw follows in the footsteps of a few eastern jurisdictions in Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario – but is the first jurisdiction in western Canada to call for a ban on cell phones.

The bylaw in Strathcona will come with a $100 fine for first time offenders and will only apply to motorists traveling on county roads. Provincial routes in the county won’t be affected.

Hands-free conversations will still be allowed under the bylaw, which will take effect Sept. 1.

According to a story in the Edmonton Journal, Strathcona’s new legislation Premier Ed Stelmach says the province plans on introducing legislation later this year that will combat a number of driver distractions, similar to legislation coming into effect in Ontario.

Last year, a private member’s bill in Alberta called for a province-wide ban on cell phones, which led to the formation of a committee to study the effect of similar bans in jurisdictions around the world.

The report did not find any conclusive evidence that cell phone bans reduced the number of collisions on the road.

— with files from Edmonton Journal

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