TORONTO, Ont. –Ontario has introduced new legislation that would ban the use of handheld devices such as cell phones and GPS systems while driving.
Anyone caught violating the law would be subject to fines of up to $500, the province announced recently. Hands-free devices, and dash-mounted GPS systems would be okay under the law. According to Transport Canada, driver distraction is a factor in 20% of all collisions and drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in an accident. Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland already ban the use of handheld devices while driving.
“We know these new technologies have created some tremendous conveniences, but we know something else: deep down, we all know it is dangerous to use them while driving,” said Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.
The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) immediately asked for clarification on the new law, to ensure it does not include push-to- talk and satellite technologies commonly used by truckers. The association is calling on the province to clarify the regulations through provisions that will be made following the bill’s passage.
“We applaud (the) move by the Minister to ban the use of handheld cell phones and other distractions while driving,” said OTA president David Bradley. “No one knows better than truck drivers the dangers posed by the ever increasing use of these devices while driving. We see it every day as distracted drivers drive erratically on the highways we share with them.”
However, he added “At the same time, we are pleased that the Minister and the government have indicated their understanding that for commercial vehicles there are legitimate and necessary communications issues related to the operation of their vehicles and we look forward to addressing these with the government in a safe and responsible manner as the regulations are developed.” •
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