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Ontario bans hand-held devices

By Workplace Staff

The Ontario government has now announced that its ban on hand-helddevices while driving will take effect on October 26, 2009. The new lawwill make it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or emailusing hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications andentertainment 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.

"It is not safe to be texting, e-mailing or dialling a phone when you are driving a vehicle. Now it is also illegal," said Minister of Transportation Jim Bradley in making the announcement.

Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash than a driver focused on the road. Other studies show that dialling and texting carries the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities.

Under Ontario's new law, fines of up to $500 can be levied against distracted drivers who text, type, email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device.

Ontario joins more than 50 countries worldwide and a growing number of North American  jurisdictions that have similar distracted driving legislation including Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, California and New York.

Teens and young people under 35 are the most frequent users of cell phones while driving.

Police, paramedics and firefighters will continue to be allowed to use hand-held devices when performing their duties. All drivers may use hand-held devices to call 9-1-1. 

In an upcoming issue of Workplace e-news, lawyer Goldie Bassi will offer suggestions on how you can develop a policy to address this new law in your workplace.

In the meantime, click here to read about the new law will affect drivers' communications strategies.

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