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Ontario drivers have until fall to hang up

TORONTO, Ont. -- Legislation making it illegal to use cell phones and other handheld communication devices cle...

TORONTO, Ont. — Legislation making it illegal to use cell phones and other handheld communication devices cleared its final hurdle yesterday, when it received third reading in the Ontario Legislature.


The law could be officially on the books as early as this fall.


“We want drivers to focus on the task of driving: driving safely must always be a driver’s primary task and responsibility, anything less is unacceptable,” said Ontario Transport Minister, Jim Bradley. “Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel – it is one of the basic tenets of safe driving.”


Drivers caught talking, dialing, e-mailing or texting will be fined up to $500, according to the legislation. Portable video games will also be included, as will display screens unrelated to the task of driving, such as DVD players or laptop computers.


Cell phones with earpieces or headsets and voice-activated dialing will be permitted under the law. GPS systems will also be allowed, provided they’re properly secured within the vehicle. It’s expected CB radios will also be okay, as long as they’re hard-wired into the truck.


The province appears willing to make certain exceptions for the trucking industry, according to a backgrounder published by the Ministry of Transportation.


“The Ministry of Transportation is also considering additional exemptions for certain communications devices used to dispatch, track and monitor commercial drivers and include these in supporting regulations. The ministry is working with stakeholders to ensure that the legislation does not place unintended restrictions on industry,” the MTO said.


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