New rules on Ontario roadways

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation announced today that Bill 118 – the distracted driving legislation – is coming into effect as of Oct. 26. The new law will make it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. Following a three-month period that begins October 26, where the focus will be on educating drivers, police will start issuing tickets on February 1, 2010.

All two-way radios in all vehicles with the exception of emergency responding vehicles must be hands-free in three years time. This news comes from the official government staffer who has been in communications with Radio Amateurs of Canada over the last year. At the end of the three-year exemption, all commercial, CB and amateur radio equipment used in moving vehicles by the vehicle operator must be hands-free in operation.

20 Responses to “New rules on Ontario roadways”

  • John J. Riddell VE3AMZ

    What a shame that the Radio Amateurs are not exempted totally !
    We need to work to get these guys out of the legislature and put in another
    party that will show some concern for Amateurs.
    I’ve been operating mobile since 1960, and been licenced for 51 years
    John VE3AMZ
    Waterloo Ont.

  • John J. Riddell VE3AMZ

    What a shame that the Radio Amateurs are not exempted totally !
    We need to work to get these guys out of the legislature and put in another
    party that will show some concern for Amateurs.
    I’ve been operating mobile since 1960, and been licenced for 51 years
    John VE3AMZ
    Waterloo Ont.

  • Bill Ford (really!)

    I was just thinking that the Liberals can’t get any more stupid than increasing taxes (GST and PST harmonization), and all the farting around that they’re doing on a wide range of issues. Then I read that we’re exempt for 3 more years and that’s it.

    What a stupid bunch of morons. Vote Conservative? Get real. The idiot who is in charge of the Tories is a protege of Mike Harris perhaps the all time moron in Canadian politics. I’d vote NDP but as most people are still whining over Bob Rae (and he’s no longer a member of the NDP but a sitting Liberal MP) they won’t get elected. So for me, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    I want to use my HF, 2m and CB radios in my van. As nobody is willing to make a hands free radio I guess I’ll go back to knitting while driving the 400.

    Thanks McGinty and my Liberal MPP cabinet minister. No more!!! And take that bigger moron Harper with you.

  • Somebody (else) needs to now get tough and tell our dear Ministry of Transportation people that they are screwing around with FEDERAL law as we are all FEDERALLY licensed under the Communications Act. I tried to do so in numerous written letters to the Minister.

    Lawmakers in Manitoba “got” that message loud an clear, but apparently our collective attempts to reason with our own Ministry here in Ontario fell on deaf, bureaucratic ears.

    The truth is that there is not a SHRED of evidence…NONE…that handling a microphone in a moving vehicle is any more dangerous than handling a cup of coffee. Maybe banning that activity, too, will be next.

    However, one thing is for sure. If this nonsense stands, my own radios are coming OUT of my vehicles and they can kiss my participation in ARES and CANWARN goodbye.

    Keith Baker
    Corunna, ON

  • It will be interesting to see how this plays out. In particular, devices such as smart phones that have built in GPS capabilities. One could always claim that they were using the device for navigation when in fact they may have been sending text messages. How would this stand up in court?

    Highway Traffic Act

    1. Section 78 of the Highway Traffic Act is repealed and the following substituted:

    Display screen visible to driver prohibited

    78. (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver.


    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the display screen of,

    (a) a global positioning system navigation device while being used to provide navigation information;

    (b) a hand-held wireless communication device or a device that is prescribed for the purpose of subsection 78.1 (1);

    (c) a logistical transportation tracking system device used for commercial purposes to track vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of packages or other goods;

    (d) a collision avoidance system device that has no other function than to deliver a collision avoidance system; or

    (e) an instrument, gauge or system that is used to provide information to the driver regarding the status of various systems of the motor vehicle.

  • Holy moley….

    I guess the days of Amateur providing emergency support in Canada are over.

    Pity…won’t be long here in the US either…

    David, KG4GIY
    EC/RO Prince William County, Virginia

  • Interesting … parts of this appears to be considerably stricter than expected.


    “Hand-mikes (push-to-talk systems) and portable radios (walkie-talkies) may be used in a hands-free mode. This would mean the driver can use a lapel button or other hands-free application as long as the hand-mike or walkie-talkies is not held while driving.”

    So – the use of a standard dash-mount CB radio with a hand-held mike will not be permitted at all. Commercial users have a three-year grace period. For the non-commercial user, a hand-held mike is equivalent to a cell-phone.

  • Well, another easy alternative is to install a footswitch not unlike the old headlight dimming switches, for PTT operation, there is no “foot free ” rules yet, and most cars are automatic anyway so your left foot has nothing to do!

    PS keep the floor mat off of it! :)

  • I will show my view at the ballot box.

  • You can always black out your windows like so many others do, and they seem to get away with it!

    Who is to know what you are doing, if you do not tell anyone! :)

    Oppressive rules and laws demand countermeasures, surely HAMS are smart enough to use “countermeasures! :)

    The actual act sounds pretty stupid on how it describes “hand microphone”

    read it yourself!

  • It is unfortunate that lawmakers in Ontario do not recognize the importance of Amateur Radio in this Bill. To specifically include Amateur Radio is both narrow sighted and will impact services offered to citizens in time of crisis.

    What will it take? A disaster to show that Amateur Radio is an emergency service “when all else fails”.

  • The bill talks about “hand held devices”. It says nothing about radios that are not “hand held”. My D700 isn’t hand held by any reasonable definition of such. I hold the mic, which is one small part of the radio; the rest is “held” under my front seat.

    Imagine the uproar from hams if HRO started advertising the D710 as a “handheld”!

  • I spoke to my MPP David Zimmer many months ago and expressed my concern about ham radios in the car. I told him hams had a big investment in mobile radio gear and have been using it safely for decades. He assured me that ham radio would NOT be affected. Now when I email him about the new law he does not respond. Like a previous poster I feel like bad-mouthing those politicians but I will wait for the ballot box. BTW my radio is out of the car now.

  • Police can’t even enforce the speed limit on the 401. Does anyone think they’ll even try to enforce this silly law.? And are they going to observe it themselves when operating their own radios?

    Carry on. If you get stopped, seek forgiveness and say you won’t do it again. Then carry on.

    73, Harry, VE3GRO

  • Personally I think that they carry it too far. I get the feeling that they do not make sufficient distinction between the full duplex operation of a cell phone, which requires much more interaction with the party on the other end of the line, and PTT operation. They seem to want to make it easy on them self to paint nearly everyone with the same brush. High office government officials have a chauffeur to drive them around so it doesn’t affect them anyway.

    I wonder when they are going to give fines for drinking hot and cold liquids from a cup or bottle. What about some very articulate drivers who are having a conversation with their passenger and are constantly looking over to the passenger side to face the passenger? I have seen this many a time. I think in many aspects this law is a good thing. I’ve seen an idiot passing me on I-75 in Michigan doing 75 mph with a laptop on the steering wheel and a guy with a cell-phone between his ear and shoulder and writing on a note pad lying on the seat beside him while steering with his knees. All this was at highway speeds. It is scary you have to admit.

    There are going to be a lot of upset truckers and it would be interesting to hear their reactions over the air. I don’t like it either and a first knee-jerk reaction would be to say “to hell with it all”. On the other hand, the enterprising and resourceful HAM will find a solution with a lapel microphone and foot or thumb switch. Any bets on how long it will take for the manufacturers of mobile equipment to come up with built-in “Blue-tooth” devices? Like the seat-belt law, we don’t have to like it but it’s going to be a thing of the future and we might as well prepare for it.

    Tony VE3DWI

  • It’s really a sad time with ham radio. It appears that the mobile application has no more use. While the real cuplrits have caused this problem EG the cell users and texters through their inatentiveness cause multiple, major accicents. Yet, for decades I never heard of any ham operators that caused or were in, traffic accidents directly related to driving and talking. A little bias maybe but someone should check the fact sheet. But, with the reality of it all, how many truckers, using their CBs while driving, have been involved in crashes due to talking and driving? If we can prove that those numbers are low, then it’s more ammunition for ham opertators that ham operators can also be exempt.

    Over the past years, as many of you, I have talked on the cell phone while driving. I have noticed my own inattentiveness while driving and talking. I stopped talking ion cell about 5 or 6 years ago, aside from answering and stating that I would call back later. That said, while I’m on the ham radio, I noticed my driving habits are not much diffrent than not using the ham radio. I think this is because of the full duplex versus the half duplex. With Half duplex you can only listen. With full deplex you’re 100% interactive. With half duplex you listen as you would the car radio. Unless you’re a full blown rag chewer.

    We need some real honesty from hams. How are YOUR habits?

  • The way to send a message is for all hams to return their ham license plates to the Minister of Revenue telling him that because we are not permitted to use our rigs mobile, we won’t be giving the government any additional money for license plates.

  • I don’t disagree, BUT figure how many hams actually have personalized plates and how many of them would be willing to sacrifice those plates that they struggled to get. The amount of dollars lost by our not renewing ham plates would not register to those in charge. (my opinion only)
    The person(s) we need to talk to happen to be our own local politicians and most don’t understand, or care, what ham is all about.

    It would be great if we knew someone within the political arena that is a ham and that might have some pull, of sorts.

    How can we get all hams to unit and exercise our justification?

    My perosnal hamming tends to be mostly mobile rather than base

  • richard appleyard

    i have seen law enforcement officers being inattenative while using a cell phone while on duty and on chch 11 a reporter witnessed an hsr transit driver using a cell phone while underway. a friend of mine has witnessed women applying makeup while driving. we all done it at one time or another eating and drinking while driving. as one person stated the police can not even enforce speed limits on the highway my daughter on her G2 permit asked me a question about speed i said when in the center lane keep with the flow of traffic and never use your cell phone unless it is an emergency and even then move over the right lane with slower traffic. what we need is some politicians with ham lpermits i believe there was couple in bill davis government

  • Returning our license plates will do nothing to an already insensitive government body.
    The intent of 118 is to limit (because that’s all it will do) the use of cell phones and blackberries.
    Unfortunately we as hams are caught in the squeeze but all is not lost. We have some time to promote our cause and look for technical solutions as well.
    Personally I prefer to focus on my driving in today’s busy traffic anyway.

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