Keep Your Eyes On The Road And Hands On The Wheel



    McGuinty Government Proposes Ban On Hand-Held Devices While Driving

    TORONTO, Oct. 28 /CNW/ -

    NEWS

    Ontario is proposing a ban on the use of hand-held devices to talk, text
or e-mail while driving.
    Under a bill to be introduced this afternoon, police would be able to
charge drivers who use a hand-held cell phone, send email or text messages, or
use other hand-held electronic devices while driving. The use of hands-free
devices (http://webx.newswire.ca/click/?id=994051b90aec5c7) would be
permitted.
    Emergency calls, such as 911, would not be affected.
    Transport Canada estimates that driver distraction is a contributing
factor in about 20 per cent of all collisions. Drivers who use cell phones are
four times more likely to be in a crash than a driver who is focused on the
road.

    QUOTES

    "We know these new technologies have created some tremendous
conveniences, but we know something else: deep down, we all know it is
dangerous to use them while driving," said Transportation Minister Jim Bradley
(http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/about/minister.htm).

    "Distracted driving is one of today's most serious road safety issues,"
said Insurance Bureau of Canada (http://www.ibc.ca/) Ontario Vice-President,
Don Forgeron. "With high-tech distractions like cell phones and MP3 players
becoming increasingly common, it's getting harder for drivers to focus on the
task of driving."

    QUICK FACTS

    
    -   Under the proposed legislation, drivers who continue to text, type,
        email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device could face
        fines of up to $500.

    -   The proposed legislation would bring Ontario in line with similar
        laws in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, several U.S.
        states and about 50 countries worldwide.

    LEARN MORE

    Watch a video
(http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/news/statements/stat081028-video.htm) that
shows how distractions affect your driving.

    Find out what others are saying about distracted driving
(http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/news/statements/stat081028-video.htm).

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    BACKGROUNDER
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         About the Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green
                           Transportation Act, 2008
    

    If passed, the Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green
Transportation Act, 2008, would make it illegal for motorists to use hand-held
wireless communication devices or any hand-held electronic entertainment
devices while driving. This legislation would also prohibit drivers from using
portable video games or viewing DVD players while driving.

    Which electronic devices will still be permitted under the proposed
legislation?

    The proposed legislation applies only to hand-held wireless
communications and hand-held electronic entertainment devices. This means
drivers may use a wireless communication or entertainment device that can be
operated in a "hands-free" manner, for example:

    
    -   a cell phone with an earpiece or headset using voice dialing, or
        plugged into the vehicle's sound system
    -   a global positioning system (GPS) device that is properly secured to
        the dashboard
    -   a portable media player that has been plugged into the vehicle's
        sound system.
    

    Click here (http://webx.newswire.ca/click/?id=994051b90aec5c7) for more
information on which devices will be permitted under the proposed legislation.
    Drivers: your first responsibility is to drive safely. Any unnecessary
activity that distracts you from the task of driving should always be avoided.
    In addition, drivers who place others at risk as a result of using a
hands-free device can be charged with Careless Driving and face fines of up to
$1,000, six demerit points, a driver's licence suspension and possible jail
time. If convicted of Dangerous Driving (a criminal offence), drivers could
face a penalty of up to $2,000 and five years in jail.

    Can I use my hand-held cell phone to call for help in an emergency?

    Yes. Drivers may place emergency calls to the police, fire department and
emergency medical services. If possible, drivers should pull off the road
before making an emergency call.

    Can I use my hand-held cell phone or other device while I'm stopped in
traffic or at a red traffic light?

    No. Drivers will only be permitted to use their hand-held device when
safely pulled off the roadway.

    Will the proposed legislation apply to all drivers?

    No. Police, fire department and emergency medical services personnel will
be permitted to use hand-held wireless communications devices in the normal
performance of their duties.
    The Ministry of Transportation will also consider additional exemptions
such as for certain communications devices used to dispatch, track and monitor
commercial drivers and include these in supporting regulations to be developed
if the proposed legislation passes. The ministry will work with stakeholders
to ensure that the proposed legislation does not place unintended restrictions
on industry.

    How will the proposed legislation promote green transportation in
Ontario?

    The proposed legislation will also include an update to the Public
Vehicles Act that will promote carpooling in Ontario by removing the barriers
and red tape associated with forming carpools in Ontario. This will include
amending the definition of a carpool vehicle to recognize informal, irregular
carpools that operate between municipalities for purposes other than just
home-to-work and work-to-home trips.

    
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    BACKGROUNDER
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      Support for the Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green
                           Transportation Act, 2008

    "Doctors know all too well the consequences of driving while distracted.
The evidence is clear: driving while using a mobile phone is dangerous. We are
pleased that Ontario is taking action to protect the lives of drivers,
passengers and everyone who shares the road."

    -   Dr. Ken Arnold, President of the Ontario Medical Association
        (http://www.oma.org/)

    "Driving requires the full attention of all vehicle operators. Using
hand-held devices can have tragic consequences as drivers do not have both
hands on the wheel and they are not paying full attention to what they're
doing. As communication devices utilized in vehicles become more common, the
risk to public safety increases. This legislation will not only remind people
of their driving obligations, it will also provide appropriate tools for the
police when circumstances warrant enforcement."

    -   Chief Ian Davidson, President of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of
        Police (http://www.oacp.on.ca/)

    "There is growing evidence that the use of wireless devices while driving
is a major cause of preventable injury on our roads - both here in Canada and
around the world. With new wireless devices coming out on the market every
day, this is a much-needed law and we applaud the government for taking
action."

    -   Bob Baker, President and CEO, SMARTRISK Canada
        (http://www.smartrisk.ca/home/)

    "Distracted driving has been a concern to our members for a number of
years. The CAA is pleased to see that our government leaders are listening to
them in the proposed piece of legislation."

    -   Kris Barnier, Provincial Affairs Specialist, Canadian Automobile
        Association (http://www.caa.ca/)

    "The Ontario Provincial Police supports any legislation that will make the
province's highways safer. Distractions of any kind put all motorists at
risk."

    -   Ontario Provincial Police (http://www.opp.ca/) Commissioner Julian
        Fantino

    "Mobile technologies have dramatically increased our ability to multitask
at home and work and now unfortunately in our cars. And it's happening despite
clear evidence that most motor vehicle accidents are caused by driver error.
Anything that takes away from one's focus on safe driving should be avoided."

    -   François Boulanger, president and CEO, RBC General Insurance Company
        (http://www.rbcinsurance.com/)

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For further information:

For further information: David Oved, Minister's Office, (416) 327-2885;
Bob Nichols, Communications Branch, (416) 327-1158

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