CB use in Ontario to go ‘hands free’ in 2013

| 3/10/2010

The law in the province of Ontario that bans texting while driving has been confusing to truckers, because it implies that the use of CB radios will be banned within three years. Not exactly, a provincial official tells Land Line.

A concerned caller to the Land Line Now “Comment Line” prompted a close look at what the texting law that took effect in October 2009 means – or doesn’t mean – for truckers.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation provides the following on its Web site:

  • Ontario is granting a three-year phase-out period for the commercial use of two-way radios, including mobile and CB radios, to allow for hands-free technologies to be developed.

To the “Comment Line” caller, and frankly to a lot of people, it is pretty clear that CBs are being targeted in the ban.

Not exactly, says Ontario Ministry of Transportation Spokesman Bob Nichols, who points to a list of exemptions provided by the province.

He says the use of CB radios will still be allowed, but the way they are used will have to change for some drivers.

According to Nichols, use of the CB must be hands-free starting Jan. 1, 2013. That means a driver will not be allowed to hold on to the hand mike of a two-way radio or CB while driving.

Nichols says drivers should clip the hand mike to a belt, shirt pocket or lapel to keep hands free to drive and shift. Pushing the button to talk on a CB will be OK.

“The end of the three-year phase-out will not result in a prohibition on the use of two-way radios,” Nichols told Land Line Magazine by e-mail.

“Section 14 of Regulation 366/09 under the Highway Traffic Act allows a driver to push and hold the button on a two-way radio, including mobile and CB radios, to talk and release it to listen, repeating as often as necessary to conduct a conversation. The microphone must be secured in or mounted to the vehicle and within easy reach of the driver. It could be clipped to the driver’s belt or attached to his/her clothing.”

As for placing or answering a call on a cell phone, drivers are allowed to push one button as long as the device is secured or mounted to the vehicle. Manual dialing is banned.

Mobile data terminals, logistics software and dispatching devices are exempt from the law during the performance of work duties by a commercial driver. Also exempt is 9-1-1 service and the use of a display screen for collision avoidance.

“Along with the exemption for hand-held use when making emergency calls to 9-1-1, these alternatives will allow commercial drivers to continue performing their duties in a safe and efficient manner,” Nichols said.

“We are also hopeful that the three-year period will encourage the development and marketing of hands-free options for two-way radios, as well as for other hand-held devices. We have committed to industry that we will involve them in a review of the exemptions to the hand-held prohibition prior to their expiry.”

Click here to read the province of Ontario’s rules for texting, e-mailing and dialing on electronic devices while driving.

– By David Tanner, associate editor