About the Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2008
If passed, the Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2008, would make it illegal for motorists to use hand-held wireless communication devices or any hand-held electronic entertainment devices while driving. This legislation would also prohibit drivers from using portable video games or viewing DVD players while driving.
Which electronic devices will still be permitted under the proposed legislation?
The proposed legislation applies only to hand-held wireless communications and hand-held electronic entertainment devices. This means drivers may use a wireless communication or entertainment device that can be operated in a "hands-free" manner, for example:
a cell phone with an earpiece or headset using voice dialing, or plugged into the vehicle's sound system
a global positioning system (GPS) device that is properly secured to the dashboard
a portable media player that has been plugged into the vehicle's sound system.
Click here for more information on which devices will be permitted under the proposed legislation. Drivers: your first responsibility is to drive safely. Any unnecessary activity that distracts you from the task of driving should always be avoided. In addition, drivers who place others at risk as a result of using a hands-free device can be charged with Careless Driving and face fines of up to $1,000, six demerit points, a driver's licence suspension and possible jail time. If convicted of Dangerous Driving (a criminal offence), drivers could face a penalty of up to $2,000 and five years in jail.
Can I use my hand-held cell phone to call for help in an emergency?
Yes. Drivers may place emergency calls to the police, fire department and emergency medical services. If possible, drivers should pull off the road before making an emergency call.
Can I use my hand-held cell phone or other device while I'm stopped in traffic or at a red traffic light?
No. Drivers will only be permitted to use their hand-held device when safely pulled off the roadway.
Will the proposed legislation apply to all drivers?
No. Police, fire department and emergency medical services personnel will be permitted to use hand-held wireless communications devices in the normal performance of their duties.
The Ministry of Transportation will also consider additional exemptions such as for certain communications devices used to dispatch, track and monitor commercial drivers and include these in supporting regulations to be developed if the proposed legislation passes. The ministry will work with stakeholders to ensure that the proposed legislation does not place unintended restrictions on industry.
How will the proposed legislation promote green transportation in Ontario?
The proposed legislation will also include an update to the Public Vehicles Act that will promote carpooling in Ontario by removing the barriers and red tape associated with forming carpools in Ontario. This will include amending the definition of a carpool vehicle to recognize informal, irregular carpools that operate between municipalities for purposes other than just home-to-work and work-to-home trips.