Quebec Considers Eliminating “Hands-Free” Cell Phones in Motor Vehicles, in Addition to Cell Phones Banned in April, 2009


see source, CBC News

Less than two years after Quebec banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, a provincial advisory body is considering a ban on hands-free cellphones as well.

Jean-Marie De Koninck, president of the Quebec Road Safety Task Force, an experts group that advises the government, said members are mulling over whether to recommend the measure to Transport Minister Julie Boulet.

A ban on hand-held cellphones while driving in Quebec went into effect last April 1.

But De Koninck said studies show that no matter how it is done, talking on a phone is a distraction for drivers.

“Your attention is not on the road. It is on the conversation.”

De Koninck said talking on the phone is different from talking to a passenger, who he says is “in a sense, your accomplice.”

“He knows, he sees the same things you see. … So he’s not going to bother you if he feels that you need to have your attention on the road,” said De Koninck.
Lacking statistics

De Koninck acknowledges there are no clear Canadian statistics on the number of deaths related to accidents involving cellphone use. In France, he says, 7.5 per cent of fatal road accidents are linked to people using cellphones while driving.

But De Koninck said he is facing resistance to the idea of a full ban, even among the members of his experts group — notably police.

“[They] say, ‘How are we going to apply that law? How are we going to tell that someone is actually using the cellphone, or singing?”

De Koninck said a complete ban could also make life difficult for workers who rely on cellphones, including those making deliveries.

“The least we could do is an awareness campaign,” said De Koninck. “In the United States in some areas, some categories cannot use [cellphones at the wheel] — for instance, young drivers.”

Montreal cab driver Silbert Désilets bought a hands-free system two years ago after the government announced it would ban hand-held phones while driving. Now, he says, the idea of changing the rules “isn’t logical.”

Another driver, Amin Myar, said he could live without his hands-free phone.

“[But], for some people it changes nothing because they’re getting distracted anyways,” said Myar.

De Koninck said the task force will present the Transport Minister with its latest set of recommendations sometime this fall.

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