BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -It’s been about four months since the government of Ontario installed its ban on handheld devices while driving. While the law has been more or less universally accepted by members of the trucking industry -unlike the hotly contested forthcoming ban on the CB radio -have truckers actually seen any improvement in road safety?
With a bird’s eye view from their truck cabs, truckers have a unique -and literal -window into the habits of other drivers. Truck West asked truck drivers at the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. if they’ve noticed an improvement in driving habits since the handheld devices ban began.
John Anderson, a North Carolinabased trucker who often travels Ontario’s roads, says he hasn’t seen much of a difference since enforcement of the law began Oct. 26. He would, however, like to see the law become universal.
“It makes the highways safer -people have got their minds on what they’re doing: driving. That’s the main thing. I think that people are more aware of what is going on around them now that they don’t have that distraction,” he told Truck West. “I wish they’d pass a law everywhere… all over the world, not just the United States and Canada. “
Lee Ingratta, an owner/operator from Gravenhurst, Ont., doesn’t really pay attention to other drivers’ habits, so he can’t tell much difference. However, he thinks the law itself is a great idea -especially for cars.
“I’ve seen it all the time where they’re sitting there and they’re texting and they’re playing with the stupid thing, and they’re swerving in traffic. It’s not good. I wouldn’t be doing it while I’m driving, but answering the phone and taking a phone call, to me, it’s just like picking up the CB and talking on the CB. It’s part of my business -I’ve got to be on the phone.”
Don McLean, a driver with Robert Transport, says any changes he’s seen have been minimal.
“Not too many people change their habits, no. There are still a lot of people with their cell phones on their ear. I’ve talked to a lot of friends and they’ve pretty much geared themselves with a Bluetooth or hands-free device.”
Les Mullins, a driver with Best Choice Eggs in Blackstock, Ont., says the majority of the lawbreakers he’s seen lately have been four-wheelers, not truckers.
“I see lots of people in ordinary vehicles using cell phones and fiddling around with this and that. I haven’t really noticed (truck drivers). Everybody is wearing the earpiece -hands-free. I think the law is fantastic. I see people on cell phones and they’re in another world, especially if it’s a 1-900 number,” he said with a laugh.
Gene Martel, a driver with Ryder Transport in Pickering, Ont., says he’s seen at least one change in habits -but not a good one.
“People are holding their cell phones on their lap,” he admits. “You have to pay attention to your driving. I don’t answer my phone. I keep it off. It’s peaceful in the truck, and I leave it that way,” he says.
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IF caught texting or using your cell phone while driving the fine should be 5000.00 dollars