Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ontario Drivers' Cell Phone Ban Passes, Law Takes Effect Fall, 2009

The Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009, Ontario's new law banning use of cell phones while driving, was carried in its Third Reading by our Provincial Legislature on Wednesday, April 22, 2009.

The new law amends the Highway Traffic Act to provide:

Hand-held devices prohibited

Wireless communication devices

78.1 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages.

Entertainment devices

(2) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held electronic entertainment device or other prescribed device the primary use of which is unrelated to the safe operation of the motor vehicle.

Certain exceptions to this basic rule are also established:

(3) Despite subsections (1) and (2), a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device described in those subsections in hands-free mode.


(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to,

(a) the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle;

(b) any other prescribed person or class of persons;

(c) a person holding or using a device prescribed for the purpose of this subsection; or

(d) a person engaged in a prescribed activity or in prescribed conditions or circumstances.


(5) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the use of a device to contact ambulance, police or fire department emergency services.


(6) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if all of the following conditions are met:

1. The motor vehicle is off the roadway or is lawfully parked on the roadway.

2. The motor vehicle is not in motion.

3. The motor vehicle is not impeding traffic.

Media reports indicate the new law will not come into effect until the fall of 2009, pending royal assent and the passage of associated Regulations.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

UPDATE: October 1, 2009

The provincial government announced yesterday that the Ontario drivers' cell phone ban will come into effect October 26, 2009.


Anonymous said...

so how does this apply to service workers on a two way radio that requires a push to talk function?

mikendawn said...

Why should police officers be allowed to talk on their cellular phone while driving? How are they supposed to uphold the law, when they themselves are exempt? They should be held to the exact same guidelines as everyone else!
I don't think it is fair that they can use their cellular phone, then expect to ticket someone else for using theirs! I think this is truly improperly guided, and should be written to state that they are not allowed by anyone, save for those that are required to use a cellular device! I cannot think of anyone that would require a cellular device to perform their duties, and should be just put straight out banned while operating a motor vehicle.

Anonymous said...

ya and we should be allowed to carry guns as that would be fair as well...what a dumb ass !

Anonymous said...

I think a gun and a cell phone are pretty different.

Maybe think for just one second before calling someone a dumbass!

Anonymous said...

So, does anybody know if they are actualy exercising the whole cell phone ban yet...?
Everyones still talking on their cell phones while driving, I havent heard of anybody being issued a ticket for it...
And if you do get a ticket, whats the fine...?

Anonymous said...

Thank god I can still watch the news on the giant billboard video screens while I'm driving on the Gardiner.

Anonymous said...

When does this law come into effect? The CAA says it is currently in effect and advertisements are saying the same but is there any official word?

Anonymous said...

I had a friend that got pulled over yesterday for talking on her cell phone and now has a $110 fine. I am assuming by the fine that the law has taken effect.

Our said...

It is almost ludicrous when it is prescribes that certain drivers are mandated by law to use hand held devices which have the potential to cause serious distraction in heavy traffic. I am speaking of course of the ignition interlock device mandated by law for first time offenders who have exceeded .08. Besides a one year driving ban, in the second year drivers must have this device installed. While driving (and this includes in heavy traffic) an alarm will sound at unexpected intervals at which time the driver must reach down and detach the device from its holder, taking care not to tangle the hose, orient the device and blow into it with sufficient force and of such a duration as to cause a significant distraction. Now there is a prescribed time limit within which this activity must be accomplished. Failure to do so will result in the lights of the car to begin flashing and the horn to sound continuously until the car can be taken off the road. This has the potential to cause a distraction to the driver but distress to his passenger and the drivers of the automobiles around which could result in accident or injury in heavy rush hour traffic. Now if all this doesn't beat the distraction of cell phone use, I don't know what does. Another example of the crass stupidity of politicians who listen to special interest groups when formulating legislation instead of following common sense. Kind of boggles the mind.

Anonymous said...

In response to Mikendawn, I believe that the reason Police, Fire and other emergency workers are exempt, is because the law doesn't appear to make any other allowances for them to use their radios.

In Toronto, police officials usually double up in their squad cars. But, for the rest of Ontario, they usually only have one officer per vehicle, to increase the range and visibility for patrols.

But, to ban them from using a "hand-held wireless communication device" (78.1 (1)) would also mean that they wouldn't be able to lawfully use their dispatch radios while in operation of their cruisers.

Or what about the ambulance attendant who is trying to prepare the hospital trauma team, while his/her partner is in the back, resuscitating a patient?

The unfortunate task of creating a law, or by-law, is that the governing body must try to anticipate the needs of all individuals to be governed by that law.

I don't agree that this loophole should exist, that allows a police officer to be exempt, as you pointed out, but I don't think banning their dispatch radios would be productive, either.

Instead, rather than argue the point, I would rather have faith in their advanced training, which is required to use such devices during high-stress periods, such as violent, graphic or high-speed situations.

Anonymous said...

tinted windows anyone!

Anonymous said...

The law hasn't come into effect yet which is why people are still using it. The date for the law is in October therefore prior to that you will still see everyone using their wirelss device.

Anonymous said...

The law says you are not allowed to use your cell phone even while stopped at a red light. Well I am NOT driving if I am stopped. If I stop in a no parking zone (foot on brake)and a cop sees me he/she will ask me to move because there is no parking. Well my foot is also on the brake at a red light so I am parked then according to the parking example. Therefore the law twists its own laws for convenience.
Great system we all put up with...

Anonymous said...

My cellphone was in my hand...while resting on my stickshift....which was noticed by a police officer.

I was ticketed. I was not using the cellphone. I was simply holding it like I would a cup of coffee or stress ball and my attention and driving was not distracted at all. I drive with one hand all the time and there is no law against that. I plan to fight this.....can you help with any comments.

cell lookup said...

We need to seriously push this more here in the states. Its getting out of hand. I'm glad that Oprah is being a badger about it. Its getting ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

To whom it may concern:

Hand held devices are unsafe? Here are the facts.

“Too many people are driving with the false sense of security that hands-free devices are somehow safer, which could be a deadly mistake,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Evidence shows that using a hands-free phone while driving impairs your reaction time to critical events and increases your crash risk about the same as if you were using a hand-held phone.

Hands-free cell phones are no safer than hands-on cell phones
Paul Atchley, assistant professor of psychology. University of Kansas

Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. University of Utah

An ample majority of the studies conclude that hands-free phoning has no significant advantage
compared to hand-held phoning. The most negative characteristic of mobile phones equally applies for hands-free
phoning: shifting the focus of attention from the driving task to the conversation. The negative effects
on the driving task, such as the increased reaction time, are the same for hand-held and hands-free
phoning (Caird et al., 2008) and the crash rate is also similar (McEvoy et al., 2005)

Both hand-held and hands-free cell phone conversations impaired driving-
there were no significant differences in the impairments caused by these two modes of cellular
communication David L. Strayer, Frank A. Drews, and Dennis J. Crouch
Department of Psychology , University of Utah

Hands-free phones are not risk-free. The hands-free feature is simply a convenience: It does not
increase safety. Studies show that hands-free cellular phones distract drivers the same as hand-held phones. Why?
Because it is the conversation that distracts the driver — not the device. C.A.T. AMERICA USDOT 247969

Test subjects using cell phones -- hand-held or hands-free -- had slower reaction times than they did when not using the devices .Using either kind of cell phone missed twice as many signals as they did when not using the phones...

Hands-free mobile devices do not improve road safety, A transport watchdog found that they are just as dangerous as holding a phone while at the wheel. The report by the U.S. Governors Highway Safety Association was based on analysis of more than 350 scientific papers on ‘distracted’ driving.

Drivers who use hands-free phones tend to talk longer and more frequently while driving because it is less cumbersome. With official bans encouraging drivers to switch exclusively to hands-free devices, the end result could be an overall increase in total cellphone use by drivers. In this way, hand-held cellphone laws might actually be making our roads more dangerous.

Just google ‘ cell phone distraction’ you will have plenty more data to pick from.
The law your officers are enforcing is arbitrary, blinkered, and ultimately dangerous. It gives the impression that hands free devices are safe- they’re not and its been documented world wide.
I’d like your thoughts on this.

Peter Geitner

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how can I get information on how to report people texting and/or talking on their mobile while driving? I still see people doing that while I ride the bus to go to work and back home. If anyone knows who I can report in Ontario, please let me know. I'll checking here. Thanks