BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -After announcing its decision to ban cell phone usage while driving several months ago, the Ontario government has finally tacked on an enforcement date: Oct. 26.
The new law will make it illegal to use a handheld communications or entertainment device while driving, in an effort to increase road safety. Temporarily spared from that list of handheld devices is the CB radio, which has a three-year phase-out period to allow time for hands-free alternatives to be developed (For more on this story, see pg. 23).
But how will drivers feel about the eventual ban on such a long-standing staple of the trucking industry? Might this spell the end of the CB for good? Truck News went to the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to see how drivers feel about the new law.
Melvin McKinnon, a driver with Wadden Transportation in Sydney, N.S., says that while he agrees with the cell phone ban, he’s wary of the what the eventual CB ban will mean for what he calls a “lifeline” for truck drivers.
“(I use it) all the time. You need it for directions, accidents up ahead, brake checks. It’s a necessity,” he says.
When asked about using a hands-free device instead, McKinnon says he wouldn’t consider it. “You’ve got something hanging off of your ear and something plugged into your ear, so you’re not hearing what’s going on around you,” he said.
Kevin Harrison, a driver with Gunner Transportation in Princeton, Ont., says he’s sick of having car drivers talking on their cells phones passing his truck only to have them slow right down, so he’s looking forward to the law’s enforcement. “They should just set the bloody things down and drive.”
As far as the CB radio is concerned, he admits he doesn’t use it very often, other than listening to it from time to time, but that most truckers should be able to deal with the eventual handheld ban. “I don’t see any problem with leaving CB the way it is, (but) if they can do a hands-free, it shouldn’t bother anybody, I wouldn’t think.”
Gerard Desrosiers, a driver with Robert Transport out of Boucherville, Que., says he is 100% behind the new law.
“If you drive, you can’t take your hands off for everything. I think that’s a good law,” says the 46-year veteran. “I think it’s nice to have a CB, but in the traffic, your eyes are on the road. When you speak with a friend (on the CB), it’s not really correct.”
Daniel Fregeau, a driver with R.C. Mac Services in Summerstown, Ont., thinks the cell ban is great, but says that many smaller companies could be affected because of their dispatch procedures.
“It’s a good law -nobody should be talking on the phone or texting on the phone, (but) a lot of smaller companies now have gone to texting as far as a dispatch system. Having to pull over to take a phone call or take a text – it’s just time consuming,” he told Truck News.
But as far as the CB ban is concerned, he says an uproar can be expected from the industry.
“It’s not just nostalgia -it’s our radar detector, it’s our advanced warning system. It’s been synonymous with our industry since day one,” he said. “They want to make life tougher out there for us, basically. With the new technology, it’s more of a cost to us to update and to go with the flow. No one’s going to be happy with the new rules. They never are. It doesn’t matter what it is, they never are.” •
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