Bill 118 Passed, Cell Phones Banned in Ontario

Following in the footsteps of California and other jurisdictions, the government in Ontario have passed a bill that effectively bans the use of mobile phones in the Canadian province. You’ll still be able to yak it up on the subway or while sitting in the office, of course, but Bill 118 prevents the use of handheld communication devices while driving.

As far as I can recall, studies have shown that cell phone use accounts for about the same number of auto accidents as drugs or alcohol. When you are gossiping on the phone with a buddy, you have at least one hand off of the wheel and your attention is being distracted away from the road.

What I find strange is that so many of these bills only ban the use of handheld electronics. This means that you can still use your mobile phone while driving, so long as you use a handsfree device like a Bluetooth headset. You’re still distracted from the task at hand and you could still get into an accident as a result. Bill 118 is a step toward greater safety on the roads, but some people may ask if it goes far enough.

In addition to regular cell phones and smartphones, Bill 118 also applies to all kinds of hand-held communication and entertainment devices. Based on this wording, it would also mean that you can’t fumble through your iPod playlist while behind the wheel either. If you have an iPod integration kit and you adjust the tunes through your car stereo, that does appear to be okay. Loophole much?


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13 Comments

  1. Jon says:

    Does that mean you can’t use a 2 way radio? I guess all the taxi cabs must now leave the road. Oh, and pull over all tractor trailers and confiscate their CB radios too, can’t have that on during a long haul through Thunder Bay. My 5 kids in the back of the can are far more distractive than my phone is but so far it is still legal to drive them around. I run my local service business via my cell phone and dispatch my drivers via 2-way radio in my truck. As long as I have to feed my kids, that isn’t going to change.

  2. Voice of tReason says:

    I have been stuck behind cruisers on numerous occasions where the driver has been quite obviously distracted by the full screen and keyboard of his terminal. Either lallygagging at a stop sign or bumbling up the road like an old drunk.
    It seems that their super-human abilities, yet unimagined by we mere mortals, is somewhat lacking

  3. MickeyB says:

    It is effective as of September 1st, 2009

  4. ncavallin says:

    When is this ruling effective? Is it October 1st or was it September 1st?

  5. William Scott says:

    I wonder why the law allows olice and Firefightwers tto talk while driving???????

    • CooperS says:

      Dr H – for a Doctor you really don't seem to be with it. A passenger for the most part is able to see what is going on in traffic and as a result, knows when to keep quiet.

      Suzy,- drinking a coffee or having a snack while driving does not involve turning it on first, finding the correct number to dial, and having an in depth conversation.

      William – Police ( not olice), Fire department and Paramedics are trained to a higher driving standard than the average person, and for the most part, there is usually at least one other person in the front seat with the driver to handle the radio or electronic device.

      Tim – just so you don't feel left out, it is nice to see that at least one person in four has a functioning brain. The discouraging part for me is that the bill did not include hair brushes, lipstick, electric razors, magazines, drum sticks (and various other musical instruments) and tooth brushes.

    • D Leech says:

      I have to disagree about the passenger. On a cell you can simply hang up or get rid of it, or tell them traffic is busy and you'll call back. Passengers rarely feel the urgency that the driver does because they aren't trying to keep track of where all the cars are around. I've had to yell at passengers to shut up while I was driving in busy situations. I suspect children in the car are far worse than a cell phone.

      Also, driving statistics showed a significant drop in motor vehicle fatalities even over the period where cell phones sharply rose. So, although I don't think driving while holding a phone is particularly wise, I'd say the same thing about holding a coffee, eating food, fiddling with the radio, or distracted by the kids in back. I have seen the studies demonstrating that cell phones are decrease attention, I haven't seen any that compare them to other "acceptable" distractions. Making the arguments without the statistics or studies is rather pointless. Evidence is generally what people with functioning brains prefer.

      Thus I have mixed feelings on the bill. It's impossible to eliminate risk and there is always a tradeoff. I'd rather have people driving while speaking on a handsfree phone rather than constantly pulling over. That interruption in traffic is far less safe. We have laws for generic unsafe driving already. So far, this seems to be just picking on the witch of the day.

      I don't have the answer. But I also recognize that anyone who says they do isn't thinking too hard about it. They just picked a side and use confirmation bias to stick with it.

  6. Tim says:

    I think it's great and about time too. I see too many people driving while fiddling with some sort of electronics and they seem to always be the ones speeding and weaving through traffic! The only thing I find discouraging is that I just heard that this bill went through as it wasn't on the news or the radio, at least when I was listening. My point is it should be well known in the media that this bill passed and in affect cause I still see many people using their cell while driving.

  7. Suzy says:

    What about holding and drinking a Tim Horton's coffee in the morning! or eating while driving!

  8. DrH says:

    What about driving and carring on a conversation with a passenger!!!!!!!

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