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Nova Scotia looks to ban cell phones while driving

HALIFAX, N.S. - The province of Nova Scotia may look to ban the use of cell phones while driving, a move that could rob truck drivers and their fleets of an invaluable communication tool."We are looki...


SMOOTH MOVE: Personal grooming at the wheel could become a crime.
SMOOTH MOVE: Personal grooming at the wheel could become a crime.

HALIFAX, N.S. – The province of Nova Scotia may look to ban the use of cell phones while driving, a move that could rob truck drivers and their fleets of an invaluable communication tool.

“We are looking at possible amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act that would address driver distraction, overall, including cell phones,” says Robyn McIsaac, the director of communications for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

The distractions could also include personal grooming or reading, explains McIsaac.

“We don’t know exactly what shape that legislation will take at this point because we haven’t written it yet, but we are certainly in the stages of putting something together for government consideration.”

The provincial government has been working with the Road Safety Advisory Committee, a group consisting of law enforcement, a variety of government departments, as well as the Nova Scotia Safety Council.

It is through this committee that many of the province’s highway-related laws are changed, notes McIsaac.

“We will be, in all likelihood, working with that group to help form the basis of the legislation that will be introduced on driver distraction,” she says. “Without a doubt, cell phones will be the highest profile.”

The general population of Nova Scotia may applaud the changes, if a recent opinion poll is any indication.

The poll, conducted for the Halifax Herald newspaper by Corporate Research Associates (CRA), found that 60 per cent of Nova Scotians consider using hand-held cellular telephones while driving poses a “very serious” safety problem.

Another 33 per cent consider it “somewhat serious.”

“I think the big picture one would draw from the data … is that almost across the board, nine in 10 Nova Scotians feel that driving a car while using a hand held cell phone,” is a problem, says Peter MacIntosh, director of public affairs with CRA.

The survey was conducted using 401 adults between Feb. 20 and Mar. 1.

Nova Scotia’s new laws may also govern hands-free phones as well, since a recent Insurance Corp. of British Columbia study revealed that even those devices can distract drivers.

That study, conducted between October 1999 and February 2000, concluded, “listening and responding to relatively complex messages, as might occur when using a hands-free cellular telephone to conduct business or deal with important domestic issues, was found to significantly degrade driving performance in a series of driving tasks.”

McIsaac explains that even if legislative changes are introduced in Nova Scotia by as early as this fall, it may still take a year or so before all of the regulations are fully implemented. n


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