Ontario restricts phone use for drivers

| 10/2/2009

A new law in the province of Ontario takes effect this month to ban text messaging for drivers, but the restriction goes further. The ban also applies to talking on the phone while driving unless the driver uses hands-free technology to dial and talk.

The new law, brought forward by Ontario Transportation Minister James Bradley, states that “driving while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or electronic entertainment device is prohibited.”

Passed earlier this year, the measure known as Bill 118 is set to take effect Oct. 26 starting with a three-month education period. Starting Feb. 1, 2010, drivers convicted of texting, typing, dialing or e-mailing with a hand-held device can face $500 fines.

The law applies to vehicles in motion and makes an exception for stopped vehicles that don’t impede traffic.

Other exemptions include the use of navigation devices such as GPS as well as commercially used logistical transportation tracking systems, collision avoidance systems and gauges.

Ambulances and other emergency vehicles are exempt from the law, as are drivers who use a phone or hand-held device to contact emergency services.

According to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, “a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device … in hands-free mode.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer