VE3QRP blog & Bill 118

Bruce, VE3QRP, — nice call Bruce but you’ll never be able to operate QRO with a straight face :) — has a very thoughtful post on Bill 118 and amateur radio use at this blog here VE3QRP.

Right now, in Canada, some provinces are totally exempting the use of amateur radio from their distracted driving Bills and others, most notably Ontario, are going to make hands-free in all moving vehicles where the driver operates a two-way radio mandatory. And, as I’ve said before: Hands-free isn’t the end of amateur radio mobile as we know it. It’s relatively easy to do. The question comes down to more of: Is it necessary to make provincial roadways safer?

I hate to be harsh here but let’s not waste time beating our chests claiming “our rights” and “they” can’t do this to us. They can and they have.

In those provinces where amateurs have made convincing arguments (often to sympathetic ears in government), exemptions have been forthcoming. In Ontario, based on results, we didn’t find friends in high places when we needed them. I’m not blaming anyone here (and in fact if there’s any responsibility it may well be mine as I live in Ontario and aside from the fact I volunteered to be on the RAC executive this year I could have done more to connect with my local MPP long before I needed him or her to help me now.).

The fact that the provincial laws are all over the map may help us in the long run. The fight to exempt amateur radio from the distracted driving legislation isn’t over yet in my opinion. I’d like to see the amateurs in especially Ontario get together and work towards a permanent exemption. As Bruce, VE3QRP, points out in his blog that might not be easy and any exemption must be based more on scientific fact (which we may or may not be able to gather) rather than opinion and angry, hurt outbursts from a few.

Let’s work together.

8 Responses to “VE3QRP blog & Bill 118”


  • Joseph Verdirame VE3LNU

    Hi Peter (and Bruce):

    I have to say that I agree with the conclusions Bruce VE3QRP reaches in his very thoughtful blog entry for October 28. While I am just as unhappy as the next guy that we have not received a permanent exemption, I believe that public scrutiny on ALL forms of driver distraction will increase as time goes on.

    The cell phone ban hit the news BIG TIME this past weekend, with the October 26 implementation date approaching. I don’t know how many hams have taken a good look around over the past two days while they were happily driving and operating their exempt mobile radios: just yesterday some pedestrians were giving me some very disapproving looks as I slowly drove by, holding a PTT microphone. Any ham who thinks the Ontario goverment is “the enemy” had better give themselves a shake! Now that the rest of them can’t text or talk on their cellphone while driving (my wife included), what makes us think they will be happy with our exemption? This is a rising tide, my friends! The truth is, most people just don’t care what we’re doing – to them, we still look distracted with one hand on the wheel and the other holding a microphone.

    So by all means, let’s not roll over and play dead just yet. But let’s also go into this with our eyes wide open. As Bruce says, ultimately the solution will be effective hands free technology for hams, just like for everyone else. And while we’re at it, let’s call a spade a spade: the amateur radio manufacturers may have been asleep at the switch (just a wee bit) over the past few years, because the technology is there if we really want hands free mobile transceivers.

    In the meantime, once I get a cable fixed in the next day or so, I’ll be operating mobile exclusively with a Heil headset, exemption or no exemption. This way, at least, the disapproving looks will be replaced with looks of amusement. :)

    73 and good luck, folks.

    Joe, VE3LNU

  • So who has it right? This was posted on the ARES web site yesterday.

    OCTOBER 28, 2009.

    *** NEWS BULLETIN *** BILL 118 *** EXEMPTION ***

    ***BILL 118 DEFINITIONS*** TWO-WAY RADIO***

    THE FOLLOWING SECTION 14 HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE ONTARIO REGULATIONS
    OF THE HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT RELATED TO THE DISTRACTED DRIVING BILL 118.

    SECTION 14 SUBSECTION 1:

    A PERSON MAY DRIVE A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A HIGHWAY WHILE PRESSING A BUTTON
    ON A HAND-HELD WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE TO MAKE, ANSWER OR END A
    CELL PHONE CALL OR TO TRANSMIT OR RECEIVE VOICE COMMUNICATION ON A
    TWO-WAY RADIO IF THE DEVICE IS PLACED SECURELY IN OR MOUNTED TO THE
    MOTOR VEHICLE SO THAT IT DOES NOT MOVE WHILE THE VEHICLE IS IN MOTION
    AND THE DRIVER CAN SEE IT AT A GLANCE AND EASILY REACH IT WITHOUT
    ADJUSTING HIS OR HER DRIVING POSITION.

    SECTION 14 SUBSECTION 2:

    A PERSON MAY DRIVE A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A HIGHWAY WHILE PRESSING A
    BUTTON ON A DEVICE THAT IS WORN ON HIS OR HER HEAD OR HUNG OVER OR
    PLACED INSIDE HIS OR HER EAR OR IS ATTACHED TO HIS OR HER CLOTHING
    AND IS LINKED TO A HAND-HELD WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS DEVICE TO MAKE,
    ANSWER OR END A CELL PHONE CALL OR TO TRANSMIT OR RECEIVE VOICE
    COMMUNICATION ON A TWO-WAY RADIO OR A HAND MICROPHONE OR PORTABLE RADIO

    CLARIFICATION : ONTARIO HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT-O.REG.366/09.

    SECTION 13(1) UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2013. DRIVERS WHO HOLD A VALID
    RADIO OPERATOR CERTIFICATE ISSUED UNDER THE RADIOCOMMUNICATION ACT
    (CANADA) MAY DRIVE A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A HIGHWAY WHILE HOLDING
    OR USING A TWO-WAY RADIO.

    IN SIMPLE TERMS THIS FINAL DRAFT OF SECTION 14(1) UNDER ONTARIO
    REGULATION 366/09 PERMITS AN EXEMPTION FOR OPERATORS USING TWO-WAY
    RADIO EQUIPMENT SAFELY INSTALLED IN A VEHICLE AND ACTIVATED BY THE
    USE OF A PTT (PUSH TO TALK) MICROPHONE.

    SECTION 14(2) EXTENDS THIS EXEMPTION FOR THE USE OF A PORTABLE RADIO
    IN A VEHICLE WHEN ACTIVATED BY USING A PTT (PUSH TO TALK) MICROPHONE.

    Maybe some of the letters HAVE had an impact.

    73,
    Brian
    VE3BHD

  • Joseph Verdirame VE3LNU

    Hi Peter,

    Just a few more comments to add in reference to my post about receiving disapproving stares from pedestrians: many may quite rightly ask, “Why should I care?”. A fair point. However, let’s remember that most of us would care very much indeed if one of those disapproving pedestrians pulled out his or her cell phone to call police and report a “distracted driver”. At best, it would make you late for dinner. At worst, you could find yourself in court trying to explain the exemption to a judge. Science fiction? On the contrary, I believe this is a very real possibility in an age when everyone (and their dog) owns a cell phone and very few people like to mind their own beeswax. :)

    I believe we will see the day, very soon, when calling police to report a distracted driver will become just as common (and popular) as reporting an impaired driver. I can remember the days, as a child, when most people laughed at the idea of drinking and driving. Not so today – an impaired driver is ‘public enemy number one’. I suspect that our cultural norms will soon add the distracted driver to that list of public enemies. And though we may vehemently believe we do not fit into that category, remember: perception is reality.

    I believe these are compelling reasons which should motivate us to find good hands free solutions, instead of fighting the rising tide. Society is evolving and, like it or not, we will be transported along with it.

    Joe VE3LNU

  • We’ve too had problems understanding the wording of the definitions but the chief staffer for MoT said in reply to a direct question that it means you can push a button to activate a hands-free communication. It does not mean you can hold a push-to-talk microphone after the exemption period ends.

  • the politicians need english and grammar lessons !

  • Thanks for posting this reply.

    Ontario was probably premature in lumping two-way radio in with all sorts of other distracted activities. I suspect they did so on the basis that *any* glancing away from the road increases danger, but I think the NSC response in the USA is more measured. We are right to base our opposition on the apparent lack of specific research, as noted in the NSC letter to the ARRL. But once we do so, we have to be willing to die by that sword in the coming years should the research show that two-way radios are significantly distracting.

    If I’m right that we’re going down that path one way or another, then what I want to see are news reports that highlight how hams are inventing new approaches to ensure that two-way mobile communication is safe. The story we want to tell is, “we pioneered the technology that makes cellphones work, now we’re pioneering technology to make mobile communications safe.”

    How about a ‘Canadian Amateur’ ‘Technophile’ competition that focuses on this issue? Perhaps announce the competition in an issue that includes an analysis of the law by a lawyer, so that people can design solutions that aren’t based on their faulty understanding (or, worse, perceived loopholes), but will stand the test of law.

    (And about my call, I only use it QRP and on the satellites. Otherwise, I’m VE9QR :-)

    73

  • I see that a second judge has now ruled that Ontario’s so called “stunt driving” law is unconstitutional because it does not permit those accused with mounting a defense.

    In addition, the judge also noted that calling the conduct “stunt driving” does not change its characterization – it is still a speeding offence albeit by a different name.

    All of which now begs the quesiton: Is not driving with a cell phone jammed in one’s ear “impared driving” but simply by a different name?

    My hunch is that LONG before our stupid “three year exemption” to using our amateur radios without a “hands free” device while driving expires someone, somewhere with deep enough pockets WILL challenge the arrogantly ignorant and horrifically sweeping nature of the regulations surrounding Bill 118 in a federal court.

    And when they do, I firmly beleive those regulations will ultimately be found to be unconstitutional as well.

    At that time, our overzealous MOT bureaucrats in Toronto will be sent packing back to their conference rooms and word processors to come up with a set of narrowly targeted regulations that SPECIFICALLY excludes ALL federally licensed radio operations (and operators) from the law.

    In the interim, I suggest we all simply sit back and watch the fireworks.

  • Headset boom mikes and throat mikes are well and good for operating a transceiver while driving, as long as an ear device is not,..and I say again, NOT!!, used for listening to incoming signals from off a transceivers audio o/p system. Cell Phones primarily have only one caller that a driver would be speaking with at any one time during an incoming call. The volume levels are preset to repectable levels by the phone companies that transfers these calls to a cell phone. Volume levels remain fairly constent. This is not the case if a ham operator installs a Bluetooth ear hearing device, or a headset that has ear speakers used next to an eardrum, to a mobile transceiver’s audio o/p. Incoming signals vary in signal strength when mulitple signals are being received all the time by a mobile ham transceiver, then so does the audio levels at the audio o/p vary in audio levels. While an operator is having a qso with a station some distance away, the volume levels maybe quite low, and require raising up the audio levels, in order for that distant station to be heard by the mobile operator. Suppose another station unexpectedly joins the qso, that is located very close to the mobile station, this can end up blasting the eardrums out of the mobile operator, because the signal levles are super strong, compared to that of the distant station, the mobile was speaking with in the first place. That could easily rip an eardurm beyond repair, or cause large future hearing losses. The audio levels on a mobile transceiver is not as well controlled, as that of a cell phone system. They operate differently, when it comes to audio controls. I found this to be a big problem using a VOX headset, that also has an ear piece speaker. I found some operator’s speak in a soft voice, and are harder to hear than other operating stations, while others boom out such loud audio, that once audio levels are raised on a headset to hear the softer spoken signal, the next operator with the booming voice blasted my ear drums, near out of it’s socket. That’s why I rarely use the VOX headset in normal everday activies, but leave it’s usage for parade control, and bike marathons, and such, where all are using hand-held transceivers, on low power o/p’s. Using any hearing device with an Amateur transceiver while driving, is danagerous, not only to hearing, but also to the drivers abilities to concentrate fully on their driving, after receiving a strong, ear percing amount of audio, directly next to one’s eardrum. Myself, I would never have an earpiece next to my eardrum, for the reasons stated above, as well as the ear piece blocking my hearing on the side of my face that the ear piece is worn. It limits my ability to hear all the traffic around my vehicle. I’d be driving with only half my hearing ability, to warn me of on-going traffic problems. This, I call as driving while impaired. The whole concept of operating a vehcle in the manner Bill 118 asks us to obey, is totally without good fore-thought, and foundation, by those who have made this stupid, senseless law in the first place. What I have stated here in this small note to all amateurs across Ontario, tells both you, and me, just how knowledgable these law makers know about Amateur Radio, or any 2 way transceiver for that matter, and how they function, and how a mobile user, uses their transceiver while driving on Canadian roads. The OMA, states that ear pieces used on Ipods, and MP3 players are damaging hearing these days if cranked up too loud, and can cause perminent hearing losses. The very same priciples apply here. Think about it carefully before using an ear piece, your future hearing is at stake here.
    Just another small note before I close. Those that already have hearing losses, and may have to wear hearing aids aready, may use these hearing ear pieces in the one good ear they have with the best hearing. By doing this, their hearing abilities, are in jeopardy, when it comes to hearing traffic around them. It’s a known fact that a person with hearing losses, will install and ear piece into the best ear they have to hear with, even if it requires removing an existing hearing aid, if that person requires two hearing aids to hear properly. That puts that driver, and others at peril, of getting into an accident much easier. Just another thought to carefully think about. Inserted ear pieces, can also cause ear infections, which also cause hearing losses, and a fair amount of pain. You only have two ears to hear with, don’t shorten their life, and how well you can hear over using an ear piece, or headset with ear speakers. You’ll regret it if you do. Remember, while driving, you can’t lower the volume levels fast enough to a comfortable level, before some degree of damage is done, if the audio is set too loud. Think about what I have said here. Have things remain as they always have been in the past, of using a regular hand mike we have always known and used. Fight Bill 118 tooth and nail, and get an exemption in place for all 2way radio hand mikes used today.

    Regards and Season’s Greetings one and all.
    73 Wayne va3grp

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