Update: See earlier post.
In October, 2009 Bill 118 – Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009 will be implemented and enforced on the highways, streets and roads of Ontario after a public awareness program is conducted for Ontarionians, concerning the new prohibition on driving while using or viewing electronic hand-held devices (this includes, cell phones, iPhones, smartphones, blackberries, iPods, MP3 players, DVD players, laptop computers, eBook readers, portable games), is conducted.
Similar rules and laws have already been passed in other Provinces. In fact, Ontario followed four (4) other Provinces in passing this legislation. Ontario follows Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Manitoba follows Ontario as the sixth Province implementing similar legislation.
The rules in Ontario for using a hand-held device attract less sanctions then Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Starting in October, 2009:
In Ontario, if police witness you using a hand-held device (to: view,talk, listen, emailing (reading or sending or writing) or text messaging (reading or sending or writing) or observing a GPS (global positioning system) unit (not properly affixed to the dashboard) while operating a motor vehicle (you are situated behind the steering wheel of the vehicle and are operating it and have care and control of the motor vehicle) in Ontario, you will receive a ticket worth up to $500.00.
See sections 78 (1) to 78.1 (subsections 1-8 inclusive) of the Highway Traffic Act.
If the police consider your use of such a device as careless driving, you could potentially be charged with careless driving pursurant to section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act. A conviction for this offence, would mean the driver would accumulate six (6) demerit points on your driving record, face a huge fine, up to $2000.00 (and a huge increase in insurance premiums or having insurance cancelled), suspension of one’s driver’s licence and possible incarceration.
- In Newfoundland and Labrador: if you are convicted of this offence (which came into effect on April 1, 2003), you will receive a ticket and a fine in a range of $100.00 to $400.00 and will accumulate four (4) demerit points. If the defendant defaults on payment of the fine, they face possible incarceration of 2 – 14 days. See section 176.1 of the Newfoundland and Labrador Highway Traffic Act.
- Prince Edward Island prohibits (which began April 1, 2007) newly licensed drivers (Stage 1) from using cellphones (or utilizing headphones) or any hand-held electronic device while operating or having care or control of a motor vehicle. driving. See section 6 of Graduated Driver Licensing Regulations P.E.I Reg. EC225/07 + P.E.I. Reg. EC321/01 ($100.00 fine)), – Enabling Legislation- subsection 69(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988.
- In Quebec: if you are convicted of this offence (which began on April 1, 2008), you will receive a fine of $115.00 + and will accumulate three (3) demerit points. Bill 42 (An Act to amend the Highway Safety Code and the Regulation respecting demerit points -see section 26.1) See sections 439.1 and 508.3 of the Highway Safety Code.
- In Nova Scotia: See Bill 7 (An Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act).If you are convicted of this offence (which began on April 1, 2008) , you will be fined starting at $135.75 for a first offence, $164.50 and up to $222.00 for repeated subsequent offences (see N.S. Reg.4/2001 – 5A (1) Category A). See section 100D (1) & (2) of the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act.
- Manitoba: introduced legislation in November that proposed fines of at least $190 for using hand-held cellphones. Bill 5 was given royal assent on June 11, 2009. see Manitoba Highway Traffic Act – s.215.1(1) to 215.1(6).
- British Columbia’s Solicitor General, Kash P. Heed, has called for public input by August 7, 2009 on possible restrictions on cellphone use and on the issue of sanctions.
Those who are exempt from this new Ontario law:
Police, Firefighters and Paramedics. Driver’s (who are not police,firefighters or paramedics) requiring emergency services, are exempt from the law if they are calling “911”.
As a driver in Ontario, you are exempt from this law if you are calling “911” as a result of an emergency or if you are pulled over safely off of the roadway or you are properly parked.
How can a driver, operating a motor vehicle in Ontario, make or accept a phone call without violating this law?
If driver’s, driving in Ontario want to initiate outgoing phone calls or accept incoming phone calls, the law provides for the use of hands-free devices (ie.-headsets, bluetooth technology, OnStar, etc.).
If you want to use your communication (that is not a hands-free device) or entertainment device, in compliance with the law, while you are behind the wheel in a motor vehicle, you must meet these conditions:
- the motor vehicle you are operating, is off the roadway or is lawfully parked on the roadway.
- the motor vehicle you are operating, is not in motion (this doesn’t include a “traffic light” or “stop sign”)
- the motor vehicle you are operating, is not impeding traffic.
This means that while operating your motor vehicle as the driver and if you do not have a headset, bluetooth technology or something similar, you must pull over and use your cell phone or i phone to initiate or accept a phone call. There was a time when driver’s had to stop and exit their motor vehicles and go to a phone booth to make a phone call.
” The Provincial government decided to allow hands-free cellphone calls through headsets or earpieces because the law would be difficult to enforce, otherwise it would be impossible for police to tell if the motorist was talking to a passenger, rehearsing a speech or singing along with the car radio” said Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.
Do any of the U.S. States have similar bans on the law books?
Naturally. There are only 5 U.S. States – California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington (includes the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands) that have an all out ban on operator of motor vehicles using cell phones.
There are 17 U.S. States which have some form of prohibition on driving and cell phone use and text messaging, especially teen drivers and bus drivers. See the chart laying out the restrictions in each State.
New York Police handed out nine thousand and sixteen (9016) $120.00 summonses to motorists, who talked on a cell phone without using a headset, on March 12, 2009 in a one day blitz in New York.
At least in 50 other countries around the world, the cellular phone has already been banned. Here is a list of some of those countries who will not allow motorists to talk on the phone while driving:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Isle of Mann, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan-Islamabad, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Kingdom.
See Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley trying to make a phone call on a cellular phone while driving in simulation car ride called D.U.M.B. Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley isn’t currently considering banning eating or drinking or talking in motor vehicles operating on Ontario highways and roads.
The Law may not be implemented until late October, 2009 and Jim Bradley, the Minister of Transportation is signalling that motorists may enjoy a three-month grace period, once the law is implemented on the roads of Ontario.
Update: September 18, 2009 – Ontario Liberal Minister of Transportation, Jim Bradley is considering giving drivers a three-month grace period after the law takes effect. Penalties will also be softer than other similar infractions. Fines will range anywhere from $60 to $500 with no demerit points, according to draft regulations.
See stories,Ottawa Citizen,Owen Sound SunTimes, driving.ca
Update: June 6, 2009 – Countries that ban cell phones while driving
Update: September 14, 2009 – 92 per cent of Ontario drivers will obey cellphone ban: poll
Ontario’s Bill 118, The Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009:
Update: September 18, 2009 –post 1 & post 2 from the Ministry of Transporation.
Update: October 12, 2009 – Technology that is hands-free and works within the Legislation.
Update: October 19, 2009 – Police in York Region are issuing warnings to driver’s about Bill 118 that is scheduled to be implemented on October 26, 2009. See other stories from the Orangeville Banner, Gravenhurst Banner, Online Pioneer Plus, Canada.com .
Update: December 22, 2009 – British Columbia follows Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Nova Scotia in the ban against hand-held devices in motor vehicles. British Columbia and Ontario will begin to enforce their hand-held ban laws on Monday, February 1, 2010.
Update: January 4, 2010 – In British Columbia police will begin enforcing changes to the Motor Vehicle Act on February 1, 2010. Drivers can only use hands-free cellphones and devices that require just one touch to activate. If caught doing otherwise, driver’s will be subject to a fine of $167. In addition, drivers caught texting or emailing will be subject to three penalty points. New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) enjoy even less leniency and face a full ban on all cellphone and electronic devices, including hands-free.
Update: January 5, 2010 – New Brunswick considers cellphone ban while driving. The legislation would not be implemented until after the September 27, 2010 Provincial election, according to Public Safety Minister, Mr. John Foran. If New Brunswick introduces this law; the only remaining Province without laws surrounding motorists using hand-held devices while driving (distracted driving laws) would be Alberta. Alberta has already studied and rejected the idea of banning cellphone use on highways.
Update: January 21, 2010 – Cell phone ban to be “aggressively enforced” in Toronto, beginning on February 1, 2010, according to Toronto Police Chief, Bill Blair.