Like Mike? B.C. cellphone ban complicates some devices

LANGLEY, B.C. — Authorities in B.C. have acknowledged that the province’s new rule banning drivers from using hand-held devices while behind the wheel may make life difficult for truckers who own at least two popular push-to-talk or ‘Mike" models.

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and BC Ministry of Public Safety are looking into the matter and are said to be discussing the issue with enforcement agencies after being informed by the B.C. Trucking Association.

While most newer Mike models are either Bluetooth or speakerphone capable, users of the two most popular models — the Motorola i315 and i355 — may have greater difficulty in complying with the regulation by Feb. 1, which is when full enforcement kicks in (police still have discretion until then), because of a lack of hands-free accessories in the Canadian market.

Like Ontario, The law only permits the use of a "hand microphone" if "it is in easy reach for the driver and is either fixed to the vehicle or attached to the driver."

In noisy environments, the i315 is best operated with a speakerphone accessory (Motorola NSN6066 iDen remote speaker microphone), reports BCTA, while the i355 is said to work with a wired headset.

It’s unclear, however, how many of these accessories are available for purchase. Telus, says BCTA, reports that less than 250 of each item is in stock at its warehouse.

Even if enforcement were to give truckers a break until more of the accessories become available, it’s unclear if police officers would be able to tell the difference between the Mike models and regular cell phones.

It’s likely that driver holding a communication device is likely to get pulled over.

In the meantime, BCTA encourages members to contact their suppliers to ensure that hands-free solutions are implemented as soon as possible. 

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