B.C. hams to get safer roads but…

…And the but is what will changes to B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act (to take effect Jan. 1st) do, if anything, to the operation of amateur radio equipment in moving vehicles? While the act bans the use of hand-held devices there is an exemption for the use of two-way radios for industry (e.g., trucking, logging, oil and gas).  B.C.hams need to discover whether or not amateur radio is exempt.

Concerned B.C.hams might want to create a committee to send a delegation to meet in person with government staff who are actually writing the legislation to determine if there is an exemption provided for amateur radio. If not, then B.C. hams might want to provide Solicitor General Kash Heed with correct scientific data about the relative safety of all two-way radio operation in mobile vehicles. They may wish to stress that of all the groups using two-way radios in the province, it’s amateur radio operators who are the only ones to actually pass a federal examination that specifically allows them the priviledge to operate two-way radio transmitters in their vehicles.

If the Ontario situation where amateurs have been granted a three-year exemption before they too must go either “hands-free” or wireless is any example then now is the time to communicate directly with the government. An argument can be made that the Amateur Radio Service provides hundreds of hours of free, volunteer service to the community. Now would be the time to make  personal visits to ask local and provincial organizations that have benefitted from the Amateur Radio Service to write letters of support to be sent to the solicitor general. Organizations could include local and provincial heads of the Red Cross, Salvation Army, mayors, reeves, councillors, organizers of special events, police and other emergency responders.

Meetings with local members of the provincial government should be arranged and our case put before them.

Hams in B.C. would be wise to avoid falling into lengthy discussions about the amateur radio operators’ “rights” to operate a federally licensed two-way radio. (IMHO that “privilege” is unaffected. What will change in Ontario, for example, is in three years all two-way radio operation by drivers in moving vehicles must comply with the provincial highway traffic act. All other discussions about who does what can be a distraction from the fact that somebody should do something. Of course, anyone with tons of money to spend can challenge the legislation but no one is counting on this happening soon.

All of the above is a lot of work. It will take the efforts of many.

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