Driving while Distracted- an update

Today from the RAC Blog we get an update on the Ontario Ministry of Transportations attempt to stem “Driving while distracted…”

If you head over to the RAC Blog you will find a link to the Canadian Press Story on this item.

I did a Google search and ended up at the CTV Ottawa website where I found the same article and although I am not a lawyer or a Police Officer I will give you my comments as I look at how the new law (as mentioned in the article) will impact the amateur radio community in Ontario.

The following article courtesy CTV News

===============

Cellphone ban for Ontario drivers takes effect in Oct.

Updated: Fri Jul. 24 2009 15:17:29

// <![CDATA[// The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Ontario’s ban on the use of cellphones, BlackBerrys and other hand-held electronic devices by drivers will take effect in October.

Transportation Minister Jim Bradley says motorists can expect an education period when the ban first comes into effect, which means police will show some leniency.

He says that’s what happened in other jurisdictions when they banned cellphones for drivers, and Ontario will follow that pattern.

===========================

Ontario drivers could be fined up to $500 if they’re caught using their hand-held cellphones or BlackBerrys to talk, email or send text messages while behind the wheel.

Bob sez… No where does it mention anything with a microphone like an amateur radio/cb radio/private commercial radio.  So far…so good.

==============================

Bradley says hands-free devices aren’t covered by the legislation, but they are not recommended for use while driving.

Ontario is the fourth province to enact such a ban, following Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Manitoba has introduced similar legislation.

Drivers are also banned from using portable video games and DVD players but they are allowed to use their cellphones for 911 calls.

Global positioning systems are allowed, as long as they’re properly secured to the dashboard.

Bob sez… Once again no mention of anything that resembles amateur radio equipment unless you are running APRS with UI View or Winaprs on your laptop.  But then WHY are you using your laptop while driving???  Once again so far so good…

=============================

There are no demerit points attached to the Ontario law, unlike in other provinces.

However, Bradley says Ontario motorists using a banned cellphone could also be charged under careless driving laws and face fines, six demerit points, a driver’s licence suspension and even jail time.

Bob sez… This is where it could hit us…. The careless driving issue no matter what distracts you.  If there ever was a reason for properly mounting your radio equipment and making sure the control head is in a place easily accessable that is not obstructing your vision….  This is it….

The article seems to imply that they are targeting cell phones and small electronic toys but they do (and always have had )  the option of laying the “Careless Driving charge”.

Now we are going to have to wait and see how the law will actually effect us once they get it out to the public.  It will be interesting to see how the Police Forces will enforce the law.

I am predicting that there will be a couple of test cases real early in its enforcement life….  The first person who is found to cause a serious accident who was witnessed using an electronic “toy” will most likely get the book thrown at him/her…

The second test case will most likely be someone like “Joe Average” who forgot to hang up before leaving the parking lot.

The third test case I am willing to bet will be someone like a volunteer fireman, off duty police officer, off duty first responder who will be doing something that if they were on duty would be exempt but because they were doing something on their own time will find a fellow officer who goes by the book and will lay the charge.

=================

Either way lets be careful out there.  Use your radios, but remember the law and use them in a way that your 15 min of fame is not because you were the first Ontario Amateur Radio Operator charged under the new law…

Like I have said many times in the past…Use common sense and don’t drive while distracted as you might be driving towards me in the future…

73bob


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5 Responses to “Driving while Distracted- an update”

  1. Peter West Says:

    Great post Bob. I’d encourage everyone to personally contact their MPP and discuss the possible negative impact this legislation could have on the use of amateur radio equipment in moving vehicles – 73 – Peter _ VE3HG

  2. Steve Says:

    I saw something earlier today on an official government website indicating that there will be NO exemptions for amateur radio operators – anything with a push-to-talk mic is banned under the new law. Yet, an exemption has been made for drivers of commercial vehicles who require two-way mobile radios.

    RAC doesn’t seem to be doing much about this. I wonder if they’re waiting for the law to take effect so they can start fighting it.

    If an exemption is not made for amateur radio operators, ARES organizations throughout Ontario may not be able to provide much assistance in times of emergency because much of what they do depends on the use of mobile rigs, and it’s not always possible to operate from a static position in such circumstances.

  3. va3qv Says:

    Steve, Could you please be a bit more specific as to what website you saw this information on… RAC so far as been VERY active on telling us (Ontario Hams) who to complain to….Other provinces and states have so far given amateurs exemptions so I hope Ontario will follow suit…

    So if you could provide more info please or explain why you can’t…

    73bob
    va3rcs@rogers.com
    is my email address

  4. Steve Says:

    Here’s the link I found, which seemed fairly emphatic although I wonder if I was reading a bit more into it than was there:

    http://www.news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2008/10/about-the-countering-distracted-driving-and-promoting-green-transportation-act-2008.html

  5. va3qv Says:

    Thanks for the link Steve….Its a bit dated (October 2008) but its promising as it did not directly reference actual Radios… Amateur, CBs or Private Commercal Radios…

    73bob

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