Chatting on your cellphone or flossing your teeth while driving could cost you $172 under a new distracted driving law passed by the Alberta legislature.

Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette called Bill 16 the “most comprehensive” legislation in Canada.

It restricts the use of hand-held phones and activities such as texting, reading, writing and personal grooming.

It does allow the use of hands-free phones.

Radio communication devices such as CB radios are permitted for commercial purposes and search and rescue services.

Drivers may also use hand-held devices to contact emergency services such as calling 911.

“This legislation is a bold approach and goes beyond restricting cellphones and deals with the broader issue of distracted driving,” said Ouellette in a news release.

“Our message is clear: Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”

The legislation was sponsored by Art Johnson, Tory member for Calgary-Hays.

“As a former police officer, I have witnessed the terrible consequences of distracted driving and I am glad we are taking action,” he said.

There would be no demerit points issued along with the fine. But drivers can face additional charges if they commit other violations such as running a red light or making an improper lane change.

The personal grooming regulation would apply to drivers who are doing things such as putting on makeup, curling their hair, clipping their nails or shaving.

It is expected the legislation will take effect by the middle of 2011.