Restrictions on Cell Phones in Motor Vehicles


October 28, 2008 – The McGuinty Government announced that due to the number of “distracted drivers” that it will propose new laws surrounding the use of hand-held devices (cellphones, smartphones, iPods, MP3 players and/or portable games). Ontario is the fourth province after Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec to prohibit handheld cellphone use. Not even a year ago Premier Dalton McGuinty opposed this legislation, saying existing laws adequately dealt with motorists who were distracted while driving.

Under Ontario’s proposed laws: drivers who: text, type, email, dial or chat, using a prohibited hand-held device could face fines up to $ 500.00.

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 cellphones, smartphones
  • Hand-held electronic entertainment devices such as iPods, or other portable MP3 players, or portable games
  • Texting and e-mailing

What would be allowed while driving:

  • Hands-free wireless communications devices with an earpiece or Blue Tooth 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 commerical vehicles

Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Jim Bradley (see info.) is suggesting that Blue Tooth (wireless and hands free technology) technology is safe to use.  The Ontario Medical Association sees the exceptions to this law as equally distracting to the driver of the vehicle and actions associated with this technology reduces response time by impairing cognitive function and visual concentration.

Drivers who place others at risk as a result of using a hands-free device can be charged with Careless Driving and face fines of up to $ 1000.00, six (6) demerit points, driver licence suspension and possible jail time.  Drivers convicted of Dangerous Driving (a criminal offence), could face a penalty of up to $ 2000.00 and five (5) years in jail.

October 29, 2008 – The National Post Editorial Board weighs in on the hand-held device ban in Ontario.

There is another point of view – see Alan Cross’s Nov.14/08 article in metronews.

For more information see the media release.

March 12/09: NYPD issues 9016 cell phone tickets (at $120.00 a ticket) in a single day blitz, versus the NYPD’s normal practice of issuing  500 cell phone tickets daily.

April 5, 2009 Update (Bill 118 Ordered for Third Reading on April 2, 2009).

April 22, 2009 Update (Bill 118 went for Final Reading today and will be implemented in the fall of 2009). See the new law and the Ontario Government’s clarification of this latest Bill.

June 5, 2009: Ringing cell phone cited as reason for 17 year old driver’s death.

June 12, 2009 – Manitoba implements Bill 5 – The Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Promoting Safer and Healthier Conditions in Motor Vehicles) which received royal assent on June 11, 2009 and will come into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation.

Manitoba’s Bill 5 prohibits drivers from using a cell phone or similar electronic communication device with the following exceptions:

  • to make a hands-free telephone call;
  • while pulled over and stopped; or
  • to communicate with a police, fire or ambulance service in an emergency.

June 13, 2009 Update (downloadable program into GPS fights speeding and red-light camera tickets).

November 12, 2009 – Saskatchewan introduces legislation banning cellphones/hand-held devices, which could be implemented as early as January 2010.

November 18, 2009 – Prince Edward Island (P.E.I) passes legislation banning cellphones/hand-held devices. P.E.I joins Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba as a Provinces which have passed similar legislation.

April 2, 2010 – Hands-free conversations aren’t safe – see U.S. National Safety Council (cell phone fact sheet and Press Release) and Toronto Star story.

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