OTA seeks clarification of cell phone ban’s scope

TORONTO — Introduction of legislation banning the use of cell phones while driving in Ontario, may or may not have an impact on truckers, and the Ontario Trucking Association is eager to find out.

The language in the legislation is very broad in order to ban the use of hand held communications and entertainment devices, including e-mail devices like the BlackBerry and other texting systems, as well as entertainment devices and gaming devices.

The new law is being designed to capture whatever new technologies may be developed in the future. As a result, many of the satellite, radio and push to talk technologies used by truck drivers and companies to stay in contact while they are on the road may be captured under this broad wording.

The OTA has been working with government officials since this summer to identify legitimate communications systems necessary for the safe and efficient operation of trucks.

It appears likely a provision for the use of these systems will be dealt with under the regulations that will be made following the bill’s passage, according to the provincial trucking association.

OTA president David Bradley responded to the bill’s announcement saying, “we applaud today’s move by the minister to ban the use of hand held cell phones and other distractions while driving.”

“At the same time, we are pleased 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,” added Bradley.

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