We have all been in this scenario: You’re driving along when you hear the exciting bing! of an incoming text message. Do you keep driving and wait until you’re out of the car to check who it is, or do you immediately reach for your phone? If only the phone yelled WARNING, WARNING. Be careful – not only is distracted driving very dangerous all involved, getting caught using your hand-held device while driving will damage your perfect driving record too.

As currently published by Alberta Transportation, distracted driving convictions come with a $287 fine and three demerit points. However, the penalties don’t stop there. Having a distracted driving conviction on your record can mean higher insurance rates for up to five years as well as coverage restrictions and limited payment options for your insurance policy.

Many people incorrectly assume that once a fine has been paid, their conviction will no longer have a negative impact on their insurance rates. Although your fine has been paid, most insurance companies surcharge cell phone violations for up to five years as they are considered a serious conviction. Some companies also lower your driving record in addition to a surcharge, which results in even higher insurance rates. Further to this, many companies are now restricting coverage for these convictions, meaning that you won’t be able to obtain physical damage (collision and comprehensive) coverage for your vehicle Even if we can get the coverages, your options will be limited and usually very expensive. Finally, a serious conviction, such as distracted driving, can eliminate your chances of obtaining a payment plan with certain companies; without a payment plan option you’d have to pay your insurance premium in full or look at alternative financing options, which come with higher financing fees and rates.

Aside from the financial penalties and insurance-related restrictions of distracted driving, the risk of harming yourself or others simply is not worth it. Keep your wallet fuller and the roads safer by leaving your cell phone in your purse, console or in the backseat—out of arm’s reach.

For detailed information regarding distracted driving legislation, visit: http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/distracteddriving.htm

Submitted by Elizabeth Brodyk