Proposed CB restriction second-guessed in Ontario

| 4/15/2010

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario is already second-guessing a proposed restriction on the use of two-way radios including CBs for commercial drivers. The province had planned to restrict the use of CBs to hands-free use by January 2013.

Ministry officials now say the province is prepared to review the proposal before the phase-in date for the ban. The proposed CB restriction is part of a provincial law that took effect in October 2009 to ban the use of hand-held communications devices including cell phones for all drivers.

The Ontario Trucking Association had urged the province to keep the door open for a review of the CB portion of the law.

“The Ministry is aware of concerns by the OTA and other stakeholders, is committed to working with these stakeholders and their members to find an affordable and effective solution to their hand-held mobile communication needs, and will review the three-year exemption in consultation with them before the sunset date of Jan. 1, 2013,” Ministry of Transportation officials said in a statement.

The Ministry still believes a three-year window to phase in hands-free technology will produce the desired result of keeping drivers focused on the road.

“Hands-free technology is developing rapidly and it is felt that three years will be enough time to acquire and implement hands-free alternatives. There is also an opportunity to spread the cost of updating equipment rather than incur a larger one-time expense,” Ministry spokesman Bob Nichols told Land Line.

The Ontario law that bans the use of cell phones and texting also provides a few exceptions for commercial drivers conducting business.

Pressing a button on a two-way radio, for example, is allowed but a driver is not permitted to hold on to the hand mike while the vehicle is in motion.
“The microphone must be secured in or mounted to the vehicle, so that it does not move while the vehicle is in motion, and is within easy reach of the driver,” said Nichols. “It could be clipped to the driver’s belt or attached to his or her clothing, for example.”

Today’s Trucking reported on Wednesday that, despite the current exemption, a trucker from British Columbia was fined for talking on a CB radio while driving in Ontario. The trucker, Lyle Christie of Nanaimo, BC, said he plans to fight the ticket in court.

– By David Tanner, associate editor