Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ontario Bill Proposes Drivers' Cell-Phone Ban

City News provides the details on legislation introduced today:

What would not be allowed while driving, unless the vehicle is pulled off the roadway or lawfully parked

  • Hand-held wireless communications devices such as cell phones, smartphones and-held electronic entertainment devices such as iPods, or other portable MP3 players, or portable games
  • Texting and emailing
  • Viewing display screens on devices not required for driving such as a laptop or DVD player

What would be allowed while driving

  • Hands-free wireless communications devices with an earpiece or Bluetooth device
  • 911 calls
  • Pressing the button of a hand-held device to activate hands-free mode for incoming or outbound calls
  • GPS units mounted on dashboards
  • Collision avoidance systems
    Use by emergency services personnel such as police, fire and ambulance
  • Logistical transportation tracking devices used for commercial vehicles

Under the proposed legislation, drivers who break the new rules could face fines of up to $500. And those who place others at risk as a result of using a hands-free device can be charged with Careless Driving and fines of up to $1,000, six demerit points, a driver's licence suspension and possible jail time.

I'm not sure this legislation will be terribly popular, but it is difficult to disagree with it.

For the full text of Bill 118 see: Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2008.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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4 comments:

Layar Teb said...

While listening to the radio this morning on the way home from work I was concerned about the new bill. Not particularly because of the ban on cell phone use as I rarely use it while driving although am guilty of the doing it occasionally. My concern was more on the use of GPS systems.

I just purchased a GPS unit barely a month ago and have it mounted to my windshield. While listening to the radio I heard that only dashboard mounted GPS units will be exempt. I have read text to this effect on multiple news posting sites as well as yours and I was starting to think that I would have to sell my unit. I followed your link to the actual bill. I believe the text in your blog to be slightly in error. No where in the bill does it stipulate that GPS units must be dashboard mounted.

In fact in the bill that is going to be replacing section 78 of the highway traffic act, it states that GPS system that serves no other purpose than to deliver global positioning for navigation will be exempt. I don't see any text in the bill that states the GPS unit must be dashboard mounted as you and many other sites have described.

Garry J. Wise, Wise Law Office, Toronto said...

I agree with your interpretation, layer teb.

The actual legislation was not online when I quoted from the City News articles (although the link was available via a placeholder).

Having read through the Bill today, it seems generally that the proposed prohibitions relate specifically to hand-held use only of the various devices.

The Bill on its face does not speak to or differentiate between classes of allowable or non-allowable "hands free" modes.

The location of the mounted device does not appear to be an issue in this version of the Bill. I am unclear as to why the press reports indicate otherwise.

Rosa said...

When is this law going to take effect??

Anonymous said...

Like many laws, this one is well-intentioned and politically popular but how enforceable is it really? I'm driving along, talking on my cell or plugging in a detour on my gps ... a police officer pulls me over and asks me if I've been talking on the phone or using my gps. Not being a typical Canadian, I reply, "no". I was scratching my ear or I was brushing a wasp off my windshield. Officer disagrees and writes a ticket. Unlike tax laws (where I have to prove I'm innocent), all I have to do is show reasonable doubt that I contravened the law. Absent a willing witness or a video tape, maybe, I can't see how a court could convict. Am I missing something? Hmmm ... perhaps it has something to do with our culture? You know ... the question about how do you get a Canadian to obey a law? Answer: you make one!