RAC Bulletin 2011-034E – RAC Distracted Driving Committee meets with MTO Officials
On October 20th the same day that the Honourable Bob Chiarelli was sworn in as the new Minister of Transportation, Steve Pengelly, VE3STV former RAC HLC, Jeff Stewart, VA3WXM Southern Ontario Director and Bill Unger, VE3XT North East Ontario Director met with the Assistant Deputy Minister Road User Safety Division and the Director Safety Policy and Education Branch.
One of the questions we were asked is why Amateurs believe we deserve an exemption to operate while mobile. We explained that in order to be proficient in the use of our radio systems including mobiles and repeaters, in order to ensure they are always in working order and in order to ensure we know where they work best and where they don’t work well at all, we must continually test them. This is done by daily usage and by providing community service to many diverse groups across the Province. They were told that many communities rely on the Amateur Radio Operators in their areas as part of their emergency preparedness plans. They were also advised that Amateurs have installed, at no expense to the taxpayer, a communications infrastructure that provides a backup to existing telecommunications systems in which authorities can have confidence.
We demonstrated a 2 Metre radio to them and illustrated the difference between Simplex using PTT and Duplex with cell phones. We emphasized that to use our radios and communicate we did not have to remove our eyes from the road.
It was also brought to their attention that we are a relatively small group of private individuals and for us to continue our public service while having to comply with the new legislation, could be a financial hardship on some Amateurs.
The Ministry Officials raised several other questions as to why we cannot comply with the legislation. They were answered with solid technical and operational explanations as to the difficulties we would encounter in order to do this.
A reasoned set of arguments was presented to allay their concerns regarding safety and to explain why Amateurs should be treated differently than others and exempted on a permanent basis.
Ontario has committed to consult with RAC early in the New Year on this matter so a permanent solution can be found prior to January 2013.
Bill Unger VE3XT – North/East Ontario Regional Director
Chair – RAC Distracted Driving Committee
Radio Amateurs of Canada