Eyes On The Road - Hands On The Wheel

    McGuinty Government's Distracted Driving Law To Take Effect This Fall

    TORONTO, April 22 /CNW/ -


    Legislation to make the province's roads safer by prohibiting the use of
hand-held devices to talk, text or e-mail while driving, today received third
reading in the legislature.
    Drivers will be prohibited from using hand-held cell phones and other
hand-held electronic entertainment or communications devices while driving.
The use of hands-free devices would be permitted.
    Emergency calls, such as calls to 911, will 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.
    Once supporting regulations are developed, the new law could be in effect
as early as this fall.


    "We want drivers to focus on the task of driving: driving safely must
always be a driver's primary task and responsibility: anything less is
unacceptable. Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel - it is one of the basic
tenets of safe driving," said Transportation Minister Jim Bradley


    -  Once the new law is in place, drivers who text, type, email, dial, or
       chat using a prohibited hand-held device could be fined up to $500.

    -  Ontario will join more than 50 countries worldwide that already have
       similar laws in place, and a growing number of North American
       jurisdictions such as Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador,
       California and New York.


    Watch a video
    that shows how distractions affect your driving.

                                                      Disponible en français


         About the Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green
                           Transportation Act, 2009

    The Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act,
2009 makes it illegal for motorists to use hand-held wireless communication
devices or any hand-held electronic entertainment devices while driving. Once
fully in place, the new law will also prohibit drivers from using portable
video games or viewing display screens unrelated to the driving task such as
laptops or DVD players while driving.

    Which electronic devices will still be permitted under the new law?

    The 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 dialling, or
       plugged into the vehicle's sound system
    -  a global positioning system (GPS) device that is properly secured to
       the dashboard or another accessible place in the vehicle
    -  a portable media player that has been plugged into the vehicle's sound

    A driver's first responsibility is to drive safely. Any unnecessary
activity that distracts a driver from the task of driving should always be
    Drivers who place others at risk as a result of using a hands-free device
or any other distraction 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 law 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 is also considering additional exemptions
for certain communications devices used to dispatch, track and monitor
commercial drivers and include these in supporting regulations. The ministry
is working with stakeholders to ensure that the legislation does not place
unintended restrictions on industry.

    How will this legislation promote green transportation in Ontario?

    The legislation updates the Public Vehicles Act regarding carpooling by
removing the barriers and red tape associated with forming carpools in
Ontario. This includes amending the definition of a carpool vehicle to
recognize informal carpools that operate between municipalities for purposes
other than just home-to-work and work-to-home trips.

    When will the new law come into effect?

    It is anticipated that the ban on hand-held devices will take effect as
early as fall 2009 to allow for the development of supporting regulations.
    Amendments to the Public Vehicles Act with respect to carpooling will
come into effect immediately upon Royal Assent of this legislation.

                                                      Disponible en français

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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