Calgary student Aaron Chatha says the province’s new distracted driving legislation should apply to everyone, regardless of profession.

Bill 16, passed in the Alberta legislature Wednesday, restricts hand-held cellphone use and other activities behind the wheel with the exception of emergency-services personnel.

The legislation proposes a fine of $172 for distracted driving, but will not apply to emergency-service members on duty.

“Emergency workers should be more focused on the road than anybody,” Chatha, 22, said.

“So why should they be able to use devices? Why shouldn’t they be hands-free?”

The Calgary Police Service is looking into improving technology to reduce the amount of time members spend using hand-held devices and other onboard electronics, said spokesperson Kevin Brookwell.

“We’re not going to be able to hide behind legislation that says we’re exempt from everything because you still are accountable for your driving,” he said.

Brookwell said given the unpredictable nature of emergency-service work, it’s not always possible to avoid using handheld devices, and thus CPS is unlikely to ban them entirely.

The same holds true for Calgary EMS, which advises its drivers to pull over when using an electronic device, according to spokesperson Adam Loria.

“If a driver does need to use the phone, we advise them to pull over where it’s safe to do so and then activate the emergency lights,” he said. “We want to get our members there safe and we want to keep the general public safe as well.”