Ontario police seem trigger happy in enforcing cell phone law

I’ve received a call from one truck driver and have heard anecdotal reports of other motorists being charged under Ontario’s impending cell phone law. The law, which will make it illegal to use cell phones and other devices while driving, was announced Oct. 28.
Fines of up to $500 will be levied by police, as part of the new law. However, this law still has not gone through the required legislative hurdles and it’s premature for police to be enforcing the rule.
I called the MTO’s communications department and received confirmation that the Bill is still before the House. Therefore, any tickets would likely be defeated in court. Of course it’s a hassle many drivers would rather not have to deal with. It should be noted, police do have the power to charge distracted drivers under other provisions of the Highway Traffic Act.
While Ontario’s cell phone law is not yet on the books, it may be a good idea to hang up early to avoid trouble altogether.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Will this new law include hands free phone usage? How about annoying passengers? Or smoking, or coffee? How far will they go?

  • If smoking or drinking coffee distracts people as much as talking on a cellphone, I don’t think those people should be driving at all.

  • When are the citizens of Ontario going to wake-up and realize that we are living in a police state? It seems that the only thing Dalton and his band of misfits can do is continue to pass regressive legislation, designed to soak the general public out of more money via more fines.
    I haven’t seen any real effort to save jobs, improve highways or relieve the outrageous tax burden in Ontario. When I voted (and certainly not for Dalton and crew), I didn’t vote to have my life controlled to every degree by a bunch of neo-nazi’s! When was the last time the general public challenged the OPP budget? There seems to be no shortage of tax payers money to put more new Crown Victoria’s on the road. I guarantee we have the highest crusier per KM ratio in North America! A 110% focus needs to be placed on encouraging business owners that Ontario is the place to be and stay. Time to wake up Ontario … before we run out of time!

  • Please think twice before blaming the law makers for making these laws. They are only attempting to fix something that is broken. Unfortunately they have to issue tickets to smarten some people up. For those that do not get it there are far too many people killed on our highways.
    Please think back when you first got a drivers license the first speech we got was “Driving is not a Right it is a RESPONSIBILITY” This is something that far too many of us have forgotten.
    Please remember that even if you cannot be charged for using your cell phone while driving and it can be proven that this was the root cause of a collision you may still see a Careless Charge.
    There is a time and place for everything and many of them are not while driving.

  • As a driver instructor and safety officer I notice many people that are driving with one hand to their ear holding a cell phone. These are the people that are driving in 2 lanes, sitting at a green light forever because their mind is not on the task at hand, etc. It has been proven through studies that a person on a business call on their cell is a more unsafe driver than an impaired driver. With all of the traffic on the roads our focus must be on our driving, because driving is a complex task and requires our full attention. Driving is a priviledge not a right os passage. Those of you that fell that cell phone use should be allowed when driving would change your mind if one of you loved ones were killed by a driver that was more focussed on a cell call than on their driving.

  • It’s long overdue!
    Too many people can’t drive and talk at the same time. Yes, this includes both truck drivers and 4 wheelers.
    Let’s just hope they actually enforce it and apply the law to everyone equally.
    The same should apply to those going down the road watching the hockey game on their TV or reading the newspaper.

  • I always know when the driver of a car I’m following is talking on a cell phone — hands-free or otherwise. They don’t follow the traffic the same way and they don’t drive the way you would expect aomeone to drive. They gradually slow down for no reason, then suddenly try to catch up. They change lanes without signaling, etc. They are a real hazard, and they are becoming increasingly difficult to avoid.
    I will support such bans because my right to safe travel is too important to give up to those who believe their rights to drive dangerously are undeniable.

  • It isn’t that I disagree with attentive driving. I do. I am a professional driver with 12 years on the road now and I have seen enough dopey driving to last me a lifetime. That said, there is so much that is wrong with how people drive that passing a stupid law (stupid in that careless driving is the appropriate charge when someone has an accident talking on the phone) that infringes on all our freedoms. Yes I have talked on the phone. I have used a CB too. Do I say we do it all the time? No…. but I think some responsibility should always be resting on the driver to handle and manage distractions. If my phone rings and I am on the road, I cannot pull the rig over to answer. I have handsfree but now with this new law, they are maybe making the ban to extend to handsfree sets as well?
    We don’t need politicians to legislate “common sense” and pass annoying laws to save us from ourselves. Part of living in a free society means you have to deal with stupid people doing stupid things because they are FREE to make those mistakes. You want safe roads? Ban car travel on them. Safe roads are easy to attain if you ban travel. It is silly of course but this constant desire of politicians to save us from ourselves in the name of safety is just as silly as banning travel all together. At some point, people have to stand up and be responsible.

  • This new law being passed has been needed for a long time.I am a professional driver(school bus) and see way too many people on their phones while driving. Yes I am trained to deal with the stupidity of other drivers , there is enough of that with people not being on cell phones and watching tv while they drive.People talking on cell phones do not pay enough attention to the road and traffic.It is my job to get your kid to and from school safely and on time.Its hard and very stressful to do that when these drivers on their cells phones are cutting you off without looking, running into the sides of your bus because they “don’t” see you, slowing down, and sometimes even stopping suddenly without any notice,driving into oncoming traffic ,and many times not even stopping for school bus over head lights and flashing stop signs.Most runners of my lights I have caught have been talking on their cell phones or watching tv..Those of you against this law please tell me you honestly feel confident that your kids are safe out there with these distracted drivers that cannot even pull over to take or make a call.

  • As far as reality goes, drivers are going to continue using cell phones behind the wheel. Even if hands-free devices are used, there still will be some drivers who drive in two lanes and swerve all over. It really depends on the driver. When the swervy driver is in a large truck, it gets even more dangerous.
    Hands-free solutions are a much better approach than nothing at all. The government has passed the law and drivers will follow it or be fined.
    I operate a small business that sells and installs Bluetooth hands-free speaker phones. The quality far surpasses headsets or plug and play Bluetooth kits.
    When used properly, the voice dial feature and auto answer can make cell use in vehicles safer and you donr need to wear a headset.
    For truckers this option is also avalble but I suggest the Motorola digital 2 Watt fixed mount vehicle phone. An updtaed version of the analog car and truck phones, these digital models outperform the older ones we remember. Completly voice driven,these 2 watt digital phones are ideal for trucks.
    With extended range and an extremely loud speaker system sound is audible while the motor is running in hands-free mode.

  • My father fainted in a restaurant and was admitted to hospital. The doctor sent a letter to the dept. of transportation stating he should not drive unless a number of tests are done, which will take up to a year because of our slow medical system. He can not drive to work or out of town. This is terrible and ridiculous..Anyone else with this experience.

  • I noticed a lot of frustration illustrated in the comments of this article. The fact remains that come the fall, you either go hands-free or you are breaking the law. At that point you will have to choose what type of hands-free device you will use. Do yourself a favour and check out http://www.handsfreeguy.ca
    You will find some different solutions to something that has to be addressed. Different hands-free options are available. Please visit.
    Thanks, Ed