Display Screens and Hand Held Devices
Three demerit points will be recorded on the driver's record along with a fine of $490.00. The new law bans the use of hand-held wireless devices, hand-held electronic entertainment devices, and certain display screens. As of October 26, 2009, drivers are prohibited from:
- Using hand-held wireless communication devices (such as cell phones and Blackberries)
- Using hand-held electronic entertainment devices (such as iPods and PlayStation Portables)
- Sending text messages and email
- Programming directions or changing information on a GPS device
- Having display screens visible to the driver if they are unrelated to driving tasks, such as DVD players and laptop computers
Under the new law, drivers are allowed to use hands-free communication devices (including their hand-held devices in hands-free mode) with an earpiece, headset, speakerphone, or Bluetooth device. The legislation also exempts display screens of GPS devices that are used in hands-free mode and display screens used in commercial vehicles to track the location of the vehicle and provide information on cargo delivery, passenger pickup, or operational information from a dispatcher or control centre. There is also an exemption for display screens of collision avoidance systems, display screens providing information on the immediate environment of the vehicle (such as screens allowing drivers to see behind the vehicle while backing up), and screens that provide information on road and weather conditions. The regulation also makes it clear that display screens must be placed securely in, or mounted to, the motor vehicle so that the screen does not move while the vehicle is in motion.
Drivers of police, fire, or ambulance vehicles are exempted from the display screen and hand-held wireless communication device ban in the performance of their duties.
The legislation also exempts all drivers if they must call 911 or if they are pulled off the roadway and not impeding traffic, or legally parked.
A new Minister's regulation provides definitions and details exemptions (see Appendix 1) for certain classes of drivers beyond those covered in the legislation, including:
Certain other categories of police officers (including federally-appointed police officers, special constables, auxiliary police officers, and First Nations constables) have been granted an exemption for the use of hand-held wireless communication devices and viewing display screens in the performance of their duties.
Ontario Government provincial offences officer and municipal bylaw enforcement officers are allowed to use two-way radios and view display screens required to perform their duties.
There is a three-year exemption for the use of mobile radios and Citizen's Band radios by commercial drivers, including public transit operators, and by amateur radio operators, who assist in emergency situations such as severe storms and blackouts. Citizen's Band and mobile radios are characterized by a hand-held microphone that is connected by a wire to a separate receiver unit.
Drivers may only use hand-mikes (push-to-talk systems) and portable radios (walkie-talkies) in hands-free mode. This includes the use of lapel button or other hands-free application, as long as the hand mike is not actually being held while driving.
The regulation allows drivers to press a button to make, answer, or end a cell phone call or to transmit or receive voice communication on a hand-mike or walkie-talkie, provided the driver can see the device at a quick glance and press the button without adjusting their driving position. Repeated button presses are allowed to conduct hand-mike/push-to-talk or walkie-talkie conversations, as long as the device is secured and not held in the driver's hand.
The following are the exemptions under the new regulation:
Hand-held Cell Phone
Hands-free use is permitted by all drivers, including the pressing of a button to activate and deactivate a hands-free application.
Drivers of police department vehicles, fire department vehicles, and ambulances are exempted in the legislation from the prohibition on hand-held use. Regulation limits the exemption so that it applies only while in performance of their duties. Exemption also applies to federally appointed police officers (RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration Task Force Officers, military police, CN Police) and First Nations constables.
Hand Microphones (Hand-mikes)
Hands-free hand-mike and portable-radio (walkie-talkie) use is permitted for all stakeholders. This would mean the driver can use a lapel button or other hands-free application as long as the hand-mike or portable radio is mounted or secured and is not being held while driving.
Two-way radios, including:
Citizen's Band Radios and Mobile Radios
- Three-year exemption for two-way radio use for commercial operators, including bus drivers, public utilities workers, and municipal employees/contractors
- Three-year exemption for amateur radio operators
- Permanent exemption for emergency services (police, fire, and ambulance), federally appointed police officers (RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration Task Force Officers, military police, CN Police), First Nations constables, special constables, municipal bylaw enforcement officers, and OPS provincial offences officers
- Laptop/display screens
- Permanent exemptions for emergency services (police, fire, and ambulance), federally appointed police officers (RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration Task Force Officers, military police, CN Police), First Nations constables, special constables, municipal bylaw enforcement officers, OPS provincial offences officers, Industry Canada spectrum management officers, road authorities collecting pavement data, wireless/cable staff monitoring service levels, and auto mechanics and technicians.
Mobile Data Terminal
Permanent exemptions for emergency services (police, fire, and ambulance), federally-appointed police officers (RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration Task Force Officers, military police, CN Police), First Nations constables, special constables, municipal bylaw enforcement officers and OPS provincial offences officers, commercial operators, including roadside assistance vehicles, tow trucks, taxis, limousines, couriers, public transit, and inter-city buses.
Car Audio Screens
The following section and subsections pursuant to the Highway Traffic Act are applicable when laying charges under this new legislation.
Wireless Communication Devices
78.1 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail, or text messages. 2009, c. 4, s. 2.
(2) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held electronic entertainment device or other prescribed device, the primary use of which is unrelated to the safe operation of the motor vehicle. 2009, c. 4, s.
Contact: Traffic Management Sergeant 705-675-9171 ext. 2411
Distracted Driving Poster
Distracted Driving Card